The U.S. wheat industry welcomes the announcement today by President Barack Obama that theUnited States will support Japan’s bid to become the 12th country to join Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.
Japan imports more U.S. wheat on average than any other country and the boards of directors for U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) passed a resolution in November 2011 stating support for Japan to join TPP.
American farmers sell a significant amount of wheat into the Asia-Pacific region, where population and purchasing power are increasing rapidly. Yet while demand for wheat is also growing in the region, tariff and non-tariff barriers still exist.
As we have seen from previous agreements in markets including Mexico, Peru and Colombia, U.S. participation in regional free trade agreements provides real benefits to U.S. farmers and, specifically, wheat growers and their customers. With ambitious goals to eliminate virtually all tariffs, take on new “21st Century” issues and strengthen commitments on sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) measures relating to food and plant safety, TPP represents the best opportunity to liberalize trade in the region and help keep U.S. wheat supplies available to more customers at a lower cost.
As the world's third largest economy, Japan's entry will bring the economic output of the TPP member countries to more than $27 trillion according to the International Monetary Fund. By including Japan, two-thirds of economic activity of the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member countries would be part of TPP. That kind of economic weight will add credence to the long-term TPP goal of liberalizing trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
USW is the industry’s market development organization working in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers and their customers.” USW activities are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 19 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by FAS. USW maintains 17 offices strategically located around the world to help wheat buyers, millers, bakers, wheat food processors and government officials understand the quality, value and reliability of all six classes of U.S. wheat.