The Asia-Pacific Working Group of the diverse and broad-based U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade (Dialogue), which represents more than 95 percent of the U.S. farming, ranching and food processing sector, is expressing its desire to share specific ideas with the Trump administration on how to reengage in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations following President Donald Trump's Jan. 26 address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, during which he expressed a willingness to consider doing so.
In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the Dialogue's Asia-Pacific Working Group said it welcomed President Trump's statement that the United States "is prepared to negotiate mutually beneficial, bilateral trade agreements with all countries...include(ing) the countries within TPP" and "would consider negotiating with the rest (of the TPP countries) either individually or perhaps as a group if it is in the interests of all."
The letter noted that 11 nations currently are planning to sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in March, and that the accord will begin being implemented three months thereafter. "Once this happens, our sector will be placed at a substantial disadvantage, as other countries gain entry into these markets at substantially lower tariffs and under preferential terms," the letter said. "Given the downturn in U.S. farm prices and profitability that already is hurting rural America, the timing could not be worse. American food and agricultural producers and companies are facing significant barriers in these markets that could be addressed within the improved rules and higher standards through reengagement with the TPP countries."
In its letter, the Dialogue's Asia-Pacific Working Group wrote that there are "compelling reasons to ensure American farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, retailers, workers and consumers benefit" from trade opportunities that exist in the region. "We would welcome sharing our specific ideas and supporting your administration's efforts for reengaging with TPP countries in a manner that results in concrete gains for the United States," the letter concluded.