US - US President Donald Trump has signed an executive action to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. The move by Mr Trump has been met with mixed reactions.
The action to withdraw from the TPP ushers in a new era of US trade policy in which the Trump Administration will pursue bilateral free trade opportunities with allies around the world, wherever possible, to promote American industry, protect American workers, and raise American wages.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) applauded the President's decision to withdraw the US from, what it calls, a deeply flawed TPP trade agreement.
NFU President Roger Johnson commented: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership was a continuance of our nation’s deeply flawed trade agenda, and we’re pleased that the Trump Administration has decided to formally withdraw the US from the pact to prioritise a fair trade agenda.
“For too long, our nation’s trade negotiators have prioritized a free trade over fair trade agenda, leading to a massive $531 billion trade deficit, lost jobs and lowered wages in rural communities across America. It’s time our country refocuses the trade agenda to prioritize balanced trade, US sovereignty, and US family farmers, ranchers and rural communities. The Trump Administration should look to do so with a level of tact that does not motivate our trade partners to take retaliatory actions or threaten the integrity of positive trade markets that American agriculture relies upon."
However, other agricultural organisations have expressed concern over the withdrawal.
The American Feed Industry Association said it is extremely disappointed with President Trump's executive action.
"TPP, and agreements like it, are key to setting the terms and rules for future trade relationships, creating higher standards and expectations than previous trade deals. While the US economy generally deals with a trade deficit, agriculture is the one segment where our country enjoys a strong trade surplus," said AFIA President and CEO Joel G. Newman.
The AFIA went on to explain that US agriculture exports, including commercial feed, are increasing despite a global slowdown in overall trade. US feed industry jobs are created and supported by overseas demand for American products. Trade agreements, such as TPP, allow US producers to exploit growing overseas demand.
"Without TPP, the US feed industry will lose more than the opportunities provided by tariff reductions. We will lose the opportunity to facilitate new trade relationships by addressing larger sanitary and phytosanitary issues, environmental protections, domestic job creation and regulatory cooperation, said Mr Newman."
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall also issued a similar response.
“While President Trump signed an executive order today withdrawing our nation from the Trans- Pacific Partnership, we viewed TPP as a positive agreement for agriculture – one that would have added $4.4 billion annually to our struggling agriculture economy. With this decision, it is critical that the new administration begin work immediately to do all it can to develop new markets for US agricultural goods and to protect and advance US agricultural interests in the critical Asia-Pacific region," said Mr Duvall.
The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO, Philip M. Seng issued the following statement in response to Mr Trump's action: " The USMEF remains fully committed to our valued trading partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These countries account for more than 60 per cent of US red meat exports.
"In some of these key markets, the US red meat industry will remain at a serious competitive disadvantage unless meaningful market access gains are realised. We urge the new administration to utilise all means available to return the United States to a competitive position, so that our industry can continue to serve this important international customer base and further expand our export opportunities."
Cattlemen Express Concern
Tracy Brunner, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, also expressed concern. He said: “TPP and NAFTA have long been convenient political punching bags, but the reality is that foreign trade has been one of the greatest success stories in the long history of the US beef industry.
“Fact is American cattle producers are already losing out on $400,000 in sales every day because we don’t have TPP, and since NAFTA was implemented, exports of American-produced beef to Mexico have grown by more than 750 per cent. We’re especially concerned that the Administration is taking these actions without any meaningful alternatives in place that would compensate for the tremendous loss that cattle producers will face without TPP or NAFTA.
“Sparking a trade war with Canada, Mexico, and Asia will only lead to higher prices for American-produced beef in those markets and put our American producers at a much steeper competitive disadvantage. The fact remains that 96 per cent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, and expanding access to those consumers is the single best thing we can do to help American cattle-producing families be more successful.”
The withdrawal of the US from the TPP leaves the future of the TPP at risk, but opens the door to trade agreements between other nations. Following President Trump's action, Canada said it is keen to move ahead as quickly as possible on bilateral trade deal discussions with Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia.
"If the TPP will no longer exist as an agreement we have consistently said that we would like to reengage as quickly as possible with Japan on continued bilateral negotiations that had already begun and certainly we would look forward to future negotiations with Vietnam and Malaysia as well.
Japan is extremely important for our meat exports, both for pork and for beef," said Ron Davidson, Canadian Meat Council, speaking to Farmscape.