International trade: NCBA encourages rapid passage of Trans-Pacific PartnershipWritten by Saige Albert
Washington, D.C. – On April 11, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) joined 224 food and agricultural companies and associations in sending a letter to members of Congress calling for swift passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
NCBA President Tracy Brunner says cattle producers can’t wait any longer to level the playing field.
Net farm income will increase by $4.4 billion dollars with passage of the TPP, said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, “but if we fail to move forward, it’s not only lost opportunity but we’re losing market share in the region, and we’re facing barriers to our exports that are not based on science or evidence.”
Froman added, “There’s a lot to lose here by delaying.”
Support of the agreement
NCBA Vice President Kevin Kester of California explained that NCBA strongly supports the agreement, mentioning that it provides for economic growth, job growth and expansion of business opportunities for U.S. agriculture.
“Every $1 billion in U.S. ag exports supports over 7,500 American jobs,” he said. “With the TPP estimated to expand exports by more than $123 billion per year, it’s easy to see the benefits of this agreement for the entire U.S. economy.”
For cattle specifically, Kester said that the loss of over $100 million in sales to Japan following a Japanese-Australian economic partnership agreement in early 2015 was a significant event that underscores the need for TPP.
“TPP will immediately level that playing field,” he added.
Around the world, Froman noted that the U.S. applies an average tariff of 1.4 percent on imported goods, and 80 percent of the imports to the U.S. from TPP countries is already duty-free.
“We also don’t use regulations like sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements as a disguised barrier to trade,” he said, “but as we look to this region and around the world, we face tariffs of up to 50 percent for beef, and countries do use regulations as a barrier to trade.”
Froman explained, “TPP will eliminate or greatly reduce those tariffs and ensure that as tariffs come down, these countries don’t replace them with non-tariff trade barriers.”
On Capitol Hill
“We’re up on the Hill all the time talking to members one-on-one or in groups, going through the agreements and answering questions,” Froman said. “We’re talking about how it will benefit their constituents, and I think there’s a deeper and deeper understanding of that. As we talk to members, they’re going to make their judgment on what this means to their constituents.”
With potential economic losses at stake, Froman says that a one-year delay could cost $94 billion, which equates to a $700 tax on every American family.
“We think there’s a lot at stake here,” he added.
Kester noted that some members of Congress have given NCBA positive feedback, though the congressmen are expressing a need to hear from their constituents.
“It’s important that our members relate to their congressmen that we support the TPP,” he said. “I think it’s going to be tough, but it’s doable. We’re going to push hard and let them know how important it is.”
Kester expressed optimism that the deal will be passed this year.
As the middle class grows around the world, Froman noted that consumers want American-made products, and expanding market opportunity through the TPP will facilitate growth of exports.
“This is a region that’s going to have 3.2 billion middle class consumers by 2023,” he said. “The first thing middle class consumers want is more protein, higher quality food and more nutrition in their diet, and that means more products grown and raised here in the United States.”
Froman continued, “Made in America, Grown in America and Raised in America are great brands in this region. It’s what these consumers want. These countries want us to be involved in their lives. They want our engagement, and we want to be engaged.”
Access to these markets and consumers seeking American goods will be important.
“We’ll get access to these markets, and we don’t want the rules of the road to be set by other countries who may not share our interests and values,” Froman said. “There’s a lot here at stake economically, as well as strategically.”
Froman also noted that while NCBA is focused on the benefits for agriculture, TPP has widespread benefits for the economy as a whole.
“Every part of the U.S. economy is affected,” he said.