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U.S.-Japan Trade Deal: A Win For Farmers

A newly approved U.S.-Japan trade deal is being called a win for farmers. The agreement will lower tariffs for U.S. beef and pork exports and completely eliminate tariffs for other agricultural goods. Japan’s Parliament approved the deal Dec. 4, after being agreed upon by President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September. It’s being lauded by U.S. agricultural leaders, especially those in the beef and pork industries.

The deal will come into effect on January 1, 2020. Japan will reduce tariffs on beef from 38.5% to 9% over 15 years. Additionally, Japan is eliminating tariffs on almonds, walnuts, blueberries, cranberries, sweet corn, grain sorghum, broccoli and other products. More than 80% of U.S. dairy exports to Japan will get preferential tariff treatment.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the agreement gives American farmers the same advantage as Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, countries selling in Japan. The CPTPP is the successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership soon after he took office.

In return, the U.S. is eliminating or reducing tariffs for some agricultural imports from Japan, including perennial plants and cut flowers, persimmons, green tea, chewing gum and soy sauce. The U.S. is also reducing or eliminating tariffs on certain Japanese industrial goods, like bicycles, bicycle parts, steam turbines and musical instruments.

Japan is the largest export market for U.S. beef, to the tune of about $2 billion in sales a year. The U.S. Meat Export Federation predicts that red meat exports to Japan will rise to $5 billion by 2025 — about $2.8 billion for beef and $2 billion for pork.