In a press release datelined Fort Worth, Robert McKnight, Jr., president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) issued the following statement in response to the announcement of a bilateral trade agreement with Japan:
“We are elated that today’s announcement of a trade agreement with Japan includes a reduced tariff on U.S. beef. Japan is the largest buyer of U.S. beef exports and the third-largest buyer of Texas beef despite a 38.5 percent tariff. The excessive tariff left U.S. beef producers vulnerable to foreign competitors with lower tariff rates. High tariffs were also costly for Japanese consumers who had to pay substantially more to enjoy U.S. beef.
“We sincerely thank the Trump administration for their diligent work on this issue, especially U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud. The bilateral trade agreement with Japan is an achievement that will benefit American cattle producers for decades to come.”
TSCRA is a 142-year-old trade association and is the largest and oldest livestock organization based in Texas. TSCRA has more than 17,500 beef cattle operations, ranching families and businesses as members. These members represent approximately 55,000 individuals directly involved in ranching and beef production who manage 4 million head of cattle on 76 million acres of range and pasture land primarily in Texas and Oklahoma and throughout the Southwest.
According to the USDA Agricultural Statistics Service, in 2017, Bailey County had 5,200 head of cattle. That number increased in 2018 to 5,300 cattle. The total number of cattle including beef and dairy cattle and calves remained steady at 110,000 in both years.
In a press release from Washington, D.C., Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX-19) praised the deal, signed on Friday, Sept. 20.
Arrington congratulated the Trump administration on reaching a trade agreement with Japan that will deliver a major victory to farmers and ranchers in West Texas and across the United States. Specifically, the agreement provides increased market access for American agriculture producers by significantly reducing or completely eliminating tariffs on $7.2 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods.
“Opening up access to the Japanese market for our agriculture products is a major win for U.S. farmers and ranchers as well as rural America,” Arrington said. “Doing more free and fair trade deals in the Asia Pacific region will also mitigate China’s unjustified tariffs and pressure them to stop their unfair practices. Free market reforms at home and America-first trade policies abroad will ensure the United States will remain the land of opportunity and unparalleled prosperity for the next generation.”
In addition to agricultural products, the U.S. and Japan have reached a separate digital trade agreement.
A fact sheet summary from the Office of the United States Trade Representative follows:
- LIBERALIZING MARKET ACCESS BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND JAPAN
The United States and Japan have reached an agreement in which Japan will eliminate or lower tariffs for certain U.S. agricultural products. For other agricultural goods, Japan will provide preferential U.S.-specific quotas.
Once this agreement is implemented, over 90 percent of U.S. food and agricultural products imported into Japan will either be duty free or receive preferential tariff access. For example, under the agreement, Japan will:
Reduce tariffs on products such as fresh and frozen beef and pork.
Provide a country-specific quota for wheat and wheat products.
Reduce the mark-up on imported U.S. wheat and barley.
Immediately eliminate tariffs for almonds, walnuts, blueberries, cranberries, sweet corn, grain sorghum, broccoli and more.
Provide staged tariff elimination for products such as cheeses, processed pork, poultry, beef offal, ethanol, wine, frozen potatoes, oranges, fresh cherries, egg products and tomato paste.
This agreement provides for the limited use of safeguards by Japan for surges in imports of beef, pork, whey, oranges and race horses, which will be phased out over time.
When the agreement is implemented by Japan, American farmers and ranchers will have the same advantage as CP-TPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) countries selling into the Japanese market.
The United States will provide tariff elimination or reduction on 42 tariff lines for agricultural imports from Japan valued at $40 million in 2018, including products such as certain perennial plants and cut flowers, persimmons, green tea, chewing gum and soy sauce.
The United States will also reduce or eliminate tariffs on certain industrial goods from Japan such as certain machine tools, fasteners, steam turbines, bicycles, bicycle parts and musical instruments.
- CONCLUDING A HIGH-STANDARD DIGITAL TRADE AGREEMENT
The United States and Japan have reached a separate agreement on a high-standard and comprehensive set of provisions addressing priority areas of digital trade. These areas include:
Prohibitions on imposing customs duties on digital products transmitted electronically such as videos, music, e-books, software and games.
Ensuring non-discriminatory treatment of digital products, including coverage of tax measures.
Ensuring barrier-free cross-border data transfers in all sectors.
Prohibiting data localization requirements, including for financial service suppliers.
Prohibiting arbitrary access to computer source code and algorithms.
Ensuring firms’ flexibility to use innovative encryption technology in their products.
The digital trade agreement with Japan meets the gold standard on digital trade rules set by the USMCA and will expand trade in an area where the United States is a leader.