The National Pork Producers Council expressed confidence that the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement negotiators concluded in Atlanta, Ga., will provide new opportunities for U.S. goods.
The TPP, initiated in late 2008, is a regional trade deal that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40% of global GDP.
"NPPC played an active role throughout the five-plus years of negotiations," said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, "providing U.S. negotiators with key information on barriers we face in the 11 other TPP countries and offering guidance on outcomes that would ensure substantial new market access benefits for U.S. pork in those markets."
Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, who said a final TPP agreement could be "the most important commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers," estimated that a good outcome for pork in the trade pact could increase U.S. pork exports and help create more than 10,000 U.S. jobs tied to those exports.
Last year, the U.S. pork industry shipped about $4.5 billion of products to the 11 TPP nations.
U.S. trade analysts concluded that a TPP agreement that achieves the goals set by Congress and the Obama administration should help level the playing field for U.S. exports in a region that is the fastest growing in the world but where tariff and non-tariff barriers on U.S. goods are significant.
It also should ensure that U.S. products are competitive in the region vis-à-vis products from non-TPP countries.
Past U.S. free trade agreements, which have substantially reduced or eliminated trade barriers, demonstrate the importance to the U.S. pork industry of opening foreign markets, Prestage pointed out.
Those deals have increased U.S. pork exports by 1,550% in value and 1,268% in volume since 1989 – the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets – and now are valued at nearly $6.7 billion.
Last year, exports represented more than a quarter of total U.S. pork production and added more than $62 to the price pork producers received for each hog marketed. They also helped generate an estimated 110,000 pork-related U.S. jobs. The United States now exports more pork to its 20 FTA partners than to the rest of the world combined.
"We look forward to reviewing the full text of the TPP agreement and the schedules of market access concessions as soon as possible," said Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. "We are reserving final judgment on the package until then."
While the recently concluded agreement should be a boon to U.S. exporters to the region, the TPP has the potential to provide even greater trade benefits if and when it is opened to additional countries, such as The Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, all of which have expressed interest in joining the Pacific Rim trade bloc.