In line with the deadlock between Japan and the United States on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks, several American farm groups are pressuring the U.S. side to take a tough stance on Japan, as yesterday’s negotiations between Hiroshi Oe and Wendy Cutler showed little progress.
While strong opposition to the TPP exists in President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party, likening trade liberalization with outsourcing jobs overseas, several farm industry groups are pushing for its approval. The U.S. Dairy Export Council even wrote U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to proceed with the TPP talks even if Japan and Canada do not assent to the level of free trade they were aiming for. Some political groups have taken the deadlock to state their position on the matter. Vice President of the National Pork Producers Council Nick Giordano said, ‘The U.S. must insist that Japan do what every other U.S. trading partner has done and what all other TPP nations are willing to do: eliminate all tariffs.”
Despite the impasse, a Japanese official expressed their goal for the negotiations. “We want to conclude U.S.-Japan negotiations by the time President Obama visits Japan on April 22,” he stressed. However, aside from free tariffs on all farm products, the U.S. is also looking at automobile tariffs, and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has been urging Japan to open its market to American imports. Many who keep track of the TPP negotiations are hoping Obama steps in and tells his negotiators to compromise, but until that happens, the TPP remains on a stand still.