A coalition of food and agricultural organizations and companies Tuesday again urged the United States and other countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to quickly welcome Japan into the trade talks.
Japan recently announced its intention to join the TPP negotiations, which currently include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
In a letter sent Tuesday to President Obama, the coalition of 75 food and agricultural organizations said the inclusion of Japan in the trade talks would generate enormous interest and support in U.S. agriculture.
"The addition of Japan to the negotiations will exponentially increase the importance of the TPP to U.S. farmers and ranchers, processors and exporters as well as other sectors of the U.S. economy," said the coalition. 'Furthermore, it will spur interest in the TPP among other countries in Asia and Latin America."
Allowing Japan to join the talks also will send a strong signal to other nations that efforts to negotiate more open and transparent regional trading arrangements will continue, even as multilateral efforts to do so are stymied.
Japan's economy is second only to China's in the region, and it is fourth largest agricultural export market for the United States despite maintaining substantial import barriers. U.S. food and agricultural exports to Japan in 2012 totaled $13.5 billion. Aside from Canada and Mexico, the next most important agricultural export market among the parties to the TPP is Vietnam, ranking 16th overall and totaling $1.7 billion.
"Japan's entry into the TPP as a full partner greatly enhances the overall value of this momentous regional free trade agreement," the coalition said.
But, despite the excitement from some groups, others have expressed apprehension. Earlier this month, the U.S. Dairy Export Council said it too welcomed Japan, but only if negotiators could "achieve real, tangible market access."
USDEC said Japan would need to loosen its restrictive market access scheme, but also liberalize its complex quota system and address non-tariff trade concerns, such as how its food additive approval system currently operates.
Read more: Dairy, Pork Groups Pleased With Japan's Interest in TPP