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Farm Groups Unite to Demand Level Playing Field in Japan

May 13, 2019

Expanded agricultural market access to Japan is vital for America’s struggling rural economy, and that access needs to be on par with what’s already enjoyed by U.S. competitors. That was the message delivered by NMPF, many of its members and dozens of other farm and food organizations among the nearly 90 signatories of a letter sent last month to the U.S. Trade Representative. The letter detailed the need for a swift and strong U.S-Japan trade deal that addresses the needs of American farmers and food makers.

“The U.S. food and agriculture industry is increasingly disadvantaged by competing regional and bilateral agreements with Japan that have already been implemented, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the European Union-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-Japan EPA),” the groups, which included the American Farm Bureau Federation, the International Dairy Foods Association, and other agricultural leaders said in their letter to USTR.

Japan recently decreased tariffs on agricultural imports from the European Union and CPTPP member countries, which, the group warned, is stealing markets once enjoyed by American exporters.

NMPF has worked with others in agriculture over the past two years for the launch of trade negotiations with Japan as other competitors have begun to enjoy the fruits of expanded market access not shared by the U.S. The administration finally took the necessary step of announcing talks late last year, formally starting negotiations last month. NMPF is focused on touting the urgent need for a deal with Japan that helps U.S. dairy exporters maintain and grow their competitiveness in this dairy-hungry market.

The United States exported $270 million in dairy goods to Japan in 2018, making it the fifth-largest buyer of U.S. products. A USDEC study earlier this year showed that America could double its share of the Japanese market over the next 10 years if given appropriate market access. Without positive action from trade officials, the USDEC study forecast that dairy exports to Japan will fall 20 percent over the next 5 years, as Europe, Australia, and New Zealand increase their dominance in the market, given the benefits their own trade treaties with Japan provide them.

Because of that risk, NMPF will continue to work with the Trump Administration and others in food and agriculture to drive towards robust results for dairy in the ongoing U.S.-Japan trade negotiations. A U.S. trade agreement with Japan is needed quickly, and it must include market access provisions at least equal to the terms of the CPTPP and the EU-Japan EPA, building on those precedents where possible, the letter urges.