Scuse: All U.S. ag products on TPP table so far | TSLN.com

Scuse: All U.S. ag products on TPP table so far

The United States has put all its agricultural products, including sugar, on the table in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, but will stick with that position only if other countries agree to do the same, Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse said here today as TPP negotiators were meeting in Singapore.

"We are committed to negotiating an agreement that is in the best interest of U.S. agriculture," Scuse said in a speech to the International Sweetener Colloquium, a meeting organized by the Sweetener Users Association, which favors liberalization of the sugar market.

The American Sugar Alliance, which represents U.S. sugar growers, opposes further further liberalization on the grounds that the U.S. sugar market is already oversupplied with imports from Mexico.

Scuse added, however, that U.S. negotiators plan to "hold Japan to its commitment" when it joined TPP to put all products on the table and to push Canada into "comprehensive market access commitments" that would increase U.S. exports to that country.

The trade ministers from the 12 TPP countries – the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Japan – were still struggling Sunday with the agricultural issues, Washington Trade Daily reported late in the day.

Japan continued to resist big market openings for rice, beef, dairy products, sugar and wheat, the United States has "red-lined" sugar and Canada has balked on liberalizing dairy and poultry imports, WTD said.

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In addition, the countries were considering allowing members to decide tariff phase-out periods on a bilateral basis instead of adopting a unified rule, sources close to the matter said Sunday according to a Kyodo news service report from Singapore, WTD noted.

The United States and Japan were continuing to have trouble reaching agreements on agriculture, The Japan News said.

In addition, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to U.S. Trade Represenatative Michael Froman, who is in Singapore, asking for assurances that the TPP negotiations will not be concluded until Japan agrees to eliminate tariff and non-tariff trade barriers for agricultural products, the National Pork Producers Council said in a news release.

The letter was signed by Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Richard Burr, R-N.C., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.,Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., John Thune, R-S.D., and Mark Udall, D-Colo.

Scuse acknowledged that the trade negotiators had missed a goal of finishing TPP in 2013, but said that he is "very optimistic we have the TPP sooner rather than later" and that he hopes it will be in 2014.

Scuse also told The Hagstrom Report today that he does not expect any government costs in 2014 for implementing the U.S. sugar program that was extended by the 2014 farm bill.

He noted that USDA's Economic Research Service had said USDA may have to buy sugar this year to comply with the law, but he said his analysis was more recent. F

–the Hagstrom Report