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A meat counter in Japan. Agri-Pulse photo.

Trump confirms Japan ag trade deal

President Donald Trump on Sunday confirmed that the U.S. and Japan have reached a preliminary deal to lower Japanese tariffs and increase market share for U.S. agricultural commodities. The deal, as reported Saturday byAgri-Pulse, is already being lauded as a success for farmers by major U.S. ag groups.

“We've been working on a deal with Japan for a long time,” Trump said at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Ab during his visit to the ongoing G7 summit in France. “It involves agricultural and it involves e-commerce and many other things. It's a very big transaction, and we've agreed in principle. It's billions and billions of dollars. Tremendous for the farmers.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who is also in France after negotiating with Japanese officials in Washington for the past week, said the new deal will eventually pave the way for an additional $7 billion in ag exports to Japan.

“We’ll get into the details at another time, but generally, Japan is our third-largest agricultural market,” Lighthizer said. “They import about $14 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products. And this will open up markets to over $7 billion of those products. … In the agriculture area, it will be a major benefit for beef, pork, wheat, dairy products, wine, ethanol, and a variety of other products.” 

Both Trump and Abe said they hope to finalize the deal next month during a general assembly of the United Nations.

“We've agreed to every point, and now we're papering it and we'll be signing it at a formal ceremony,” said Trump, who stressed that Japan has promised to buy even more corn and wheat than normal from the U.S.

Abe tentatively agreed, but stressed that Japanese grain buyers are public companies and not beholden to the government.

Although no details of the pact have been released, it is expected to give U.S. farmers the increased access they lost out on when the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"We look forward to rapid implementation of the agreement as international competitors are currently taking U.S. pork market share through more favorable access," said David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council. “The United States produces the safest, highest-quality and most affordable pork in the world. It is the preference of many Japanese customers and we look forward to competing on a level playing field again." 

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is also hailing the deal, which they expect will sharply cut tariffs.

“Last year, Japanese consumers purchased over $2 billion of U.S. beef, accounting for roughly one-quarter of overall U.S. beef exports,” said NCBA President Jennifer Houston. “Removing the massive 38.5 percent tariff on U.S. beef will level the playing field in Japan, and we are very thankful to President Trump and his trade team for continuing to fight on behalf of America’s ranching families.”

For more news, go to www.Agri-Pulse.com