Froman, Vilsack: Trade progress with Vietnam; still working hard on Japan, Canada

In a broadcast to farm radio stations, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said today that negotiators working on the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership have made progress in negotiations with Vietnam and Malaysia, two Asian countries with large populations, but are still pushing Japan and Canada to change their trade rules.

“We’ve made some good progress, on the agricultural market access side, we’re closed with a number of countries, except for a couple of sensitive issues,” Froman said.

“We’ve made great progress in Vietnam, for example, and Malaysia, for example. And these are countries that have 20 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent tariffs on our agricultural products, so to be able to chart out a course where those tariffs will be eliminated, creates real opportunities for American farmers and ranchers and growers.

“So, what I always say is, the timetable of the negotiations will be dictated by the substance. We want a good deal — it is a very high standard deal, it is an ambitious deal, it’s got to be comprehensive.”

Froman added, “We’re working very hard to open Japan’s market. We’re going to be working very hard to open Canada’s market, and we’ve got to make progress on that front before we can bring a deal home.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was also on the broadcast.

“I’d just simply say that we stand ready to work with Japan and Canada to work through these difficult and sensitive issues on a wide range of agricultural products,” he said.

“But it does take two to tango, and it does take a willingness on the part of Japan and Canada to be realistic and reasonable about how open their markets need to be in order for us to have that high standard agreement that the ambassador talked about,” Vilsack said.

“We’re committed to it; we hope they are as well. And the presidential visit [to Japan] will put a fine point, a focus on the need for all of us to work hard to try to create an opportunity for that visit to be meaningful from a trade perspective.”

Froman’s office released a transcript of the interview. F

–the Hagstrom Report