It’s time for Trump to follow through on trade

Wheat bound for Asia is loaded into a ship at the Port of Portland. U.S. farmers are at a $200 million annual tariff disadvantage now that the 11 remaining nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are continuing without the U.S.

The wheat industry is urging the U.S. Trade Representative to use negotiations to protect wheat export sales to Japan.

Under the revised Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, which began Dec. 31, Japan will grant preferential access to wheat-exporting countries such as Canada and Australia that remain in the agreement.

President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in January 2017.

U.S. Wheat Associates president Vince Peterson testified Dec. 10 at a USTR hearing, explaining the risk to U.S. wheat export sales. U.S. Wheat is the overseas marketing arm for the industry.

The CPTPP will grant preferential access to Canadian and Australian wheat exports, he said, by reducing the effective tariff on their wheat. Eventually, this reduction will be about $70 per metric ton, or 45 percent below the current effective tariff applied to U.S. wheat.

Because Japan now has no obligation to change this tariff reduction schedule, Peterson said most U.S. wheat exports will likely be shut out of that market, undoing decades of market development work.

“U.S. Wheat Associates has had an office in Tokyo for more than 60 years,” he said. “We have invested countless hours and millions of hard-earned farmer dollars and federal export market development program funds building this market. During that time, the Japanese milling industry has become an indispensable partner for U.S. wheat farmers.”

Japan is the largest, most reliable and valuable market for U.S. wheat in the last five marketing years, and consistently returns almost $1 billion per year to U.S. wheat farmers and the grain trade, he said.

“All that is at risk without a U.S.-Japan agreement that quickly ends the preference Canada and Australia gain as members with Japan of the CPTPP,” Peterson said. “We thank you for understanding the plight of these farmers, who already face severe trade disruptions in other markets.”

U.S. wheat farmers and Japan flour millers hope to maintain provisional equivalence for wheat imports while the two countries conduct ongoing, good-faith negotiations, Peterson added.

“We urge the administration to act quickly to save our market in Japan,” he stated.

Field Reporter, Spokane

Recommended for you