US-Japan Interim Agreement Called Big Win for Virginia Farmers

PortVirginia farmers stand to benefit from the recently signed U.S.-Japan interim trade agreement.

The agreement will lower or completely cut tariffs for many agricultural products, including fresh and frozen beef and pork, according to a statement from the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Ben Rowe, national affairs coordinator for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, described the deal as a positive step for farmers. “At $13 billion a year, Japan is already the fourth-largest buyer of U.S. agricultural products, despite an average tariff of more than 17%. With a lower tariff, thanks to the trade deal, we expect our agricultural exports to grow.”

The agreement immediately eliminates tariffs for almonds, walnuts, blueberries, cranberries, sweet corn, grain sorghum and broccoli.

In addition to the reduction or elimination of many agriculture-related tariffs, Japan also has placed the U.S. on the same tariff status as the European Union and nations that signed onto the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Partnership (CPTPP). Rowe said that part of the agreement will help U.S. farmers compete globally.

“For example, the whopping 38.5% tariff currently on U.S. beef will fall to the 26% placed on beef from Australia, Canada and the EU. Some other foods such as duck, geese, turkey, peaches, melons and more would enter duty-free,” Rowe said.

When the interim trade agreement is implemented, the trade office said, over 90% of U.S. food and agricultural products imported into Japan will be duty-free or receive preferential tariff access.

The agreement was signed Sept. 25 by President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while the two leaders attended the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City. It must be ratified by the Japanese Parliament and could take effect by Jan. 1, 2020.

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