U.S. potato exporters hope the Obama administration’s decision to support the idea of including Japan in the Trans Pacific Partnership talks will eventually lead to more business with the island nation.
Leaders at the National Potato Council, Washington D.C., applauded the move April 12, saying in a news release that the inclusion of Japan in the talks could be a “tremendous boost for the U.S. potato industry.”
The Trans Pacific Partnership talks have the potential to lead to a trade agreement between the U.S. and 10 other countries — Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Japan has not yet officially joined the talks, but potato council officials are hopeful that Obama’s announcement will encourage the nation to participate. The potato council release said Japan is the largest export market for U.S. potatoes, which amounted to $400 million in fiscal year 2012, an increase of 10% compared to FY 2011.
“The inclusion of Japan in the partnership will be a tremendous boost for the U.S. potato industry, which currently ships one-fourth of its exports to that country,” potato council vice president Randy Hardy said in the news release.
If Japan officially joins the talks and the partnership is formalized, the release said fresh table stock exports could approach $100 million per year in five years after sanitary and phytosanitary access is granted.
In March, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said the country wished to join the partnership. The nation must now receive the approval of all negotiating countries to join the talks.
The TPP and Japan’s possible inclusion is scheduled to be discussed at 2 p.m. Eastern time April 15 at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Call-in information for the event is available at 800-736-4594. Participating organizations include the potato council, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Cargill Incorporated, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.