Tag Archives: Trade

Japan is considering lifting an import ban on some chicken meat from Russia, with the two countries’ leaders expected to discuss the matter on the sidelines of this week’s Group of 20 summit, government sources said Monday.

Since 2005, Japan has been banning imports of raw chicken meat from Russia due to concerns about bird flu. According to the sources, Tokyo would lift the ban only for certain parts of the country proven to have a low risk of carrying the disease.

In May, Japan’s agriculture ministry asked an expert panel to discuss whether Tokyo should lift the ban, which would likely happen in 2020 at the earliest. Tula and Bryansk oblasts in western Russia are subject to possible removal from the import ban, the sources said.

The issue is part of a broader discussion on expanding trade in meat between the two countries.

The government’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, told a press conference the same day the two countries were working on “a number of issues,” but declined to comment on whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin would reach any sort of agreement at their meeting in Osaka on Saturday.

As for expanding meat trade between the two countries, Japan plans to urge Russia to recognize more facilities in Japan dealing with exports to boost Russia-bound shipments of Japanese beef.

In turn, Japan will be open to discussions if Moscow requests Tokyo to increase authorized facilities in Russia that handle processed meat products bound for Japan, the sources said.

According to the farm ministry, Japan imported roughly 550,000 tons of chicken meat in the year through March, with some 70 percent coming from Brazil and 20 percent from Thailand.

Japan currently suspends imports of chicken meat from 57 countries and regions to prevent bird flu virus from entering the country, according to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.

Washington, D.C.- American Soybean Association (ASA) Board Member and Missouri farmer Ronnie Russell appeared Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy, testifying on the impact of trade and tariffs on soybean producers and the larger agricultural economy.

“Soybean farmers like me are feeling the impacts of the tariff war, and they are unsure if they will be able to make it through another growing season,” Russell said. “Older farmers are considering retiring early to protect the equity they’ve built up in their farms, while younger producers are looking at finding other employment. We may also see the shuttering of more businesses in rural communities whose livelihoods depend on the health of the farm economy.”

The 25% retaliatory tariff imposed last July has all but halted shipments to China, which up until last year was the largest export destination for U.S. soybeans. In 2017, China purchased $14 billion worth of U.S. soybeans. Now, the tariff has caused immediate and severe damage to the price of U.S. soybeans, which fell from $10.89 to $8.68 per bushel last summer.

“Our finances are suffering and stress from months of living with the consequences of tariffs is mounting. Soybean growers need China’s tariff removed now,” Russell continued. “Long-term, what farmers and rural communities need is predictability and certainty, which only comes through maintaining and opening new markets where we can sell our products. While we are working hard to diversify and expand other market opportunities, the loss of the China market cannot be fully replaced.”

Russell concluded his remarks by calling on Congress to urge the Administration to conclude negotiations with China that include an immediate lifting of the soybean tariff. He also asked both Congress and the Administration to finalize and enact the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), to bring a sense of progress and stability back to U.S. soybean growers and rural America.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to ratify a new free trade agreement with the United States and Canada, making it the first of the three countries to gain legislative approval.

Mexico’s upper chamber voted 114 to four with three abstentions in favor of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. It will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to withdraw the United States from if Washington did not get a better deal.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a recorded message that the vote was “very good news.”

“It means foreign investment in Mexico, it means jobs in Mexico, it means guaranteeing trade of the merchandise that we produce in the United States,” he said.

The treaty does not need to be approved by Mexico’s lower house. It is still awaiting consideration by lawmakers in the United States and Canada, however.

“Congratulations to President Lopez Obrador — Mexico voted to ratify the USMCA today by a huge margin. Time for Congress to do the same here!” Trump tweeted.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a statement applauded Mexico’s ratification as “a crucial step forward.”

Ratification of the deal still faces some opposition in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

The United States is by far Mexico’s biggest export market and its easy passage through the legislature had been expected. The approval came after Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods if López Obrador didn’t reduce the flow of U.S.-bound illegal immigration from Central America, a threat that was later suspended.

The USMCA was hammered out last year by delegations representing then-President Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, and then-President-elect López Obrador, of the left-leaning Morena, ensuring that both the outgoing and the incoming administrations were on board. López Obrador took office Dec. 1, a day after the agreement was signed.

Mexican lawmakers had already executed a series of labor reforms that the U.S. had demanded.

Mexico’s economy ministry said that with Senate approval “Mexico sends a clear message in favor of an open economy and of deepening its economic integration in the region.”

Mexico’s peso strengthened moderately against the dollar to 19.03 Wednesday, though the main factor was the U.S. Federal Reserve signaling that it was prepared to cut interest rates if needed to protect the U.S. economy, according to Gabriela Siller, economic analysis director at Banco BASE.

The United States buys about 80% of Mexican exports, some $358 billion worth last year. In the first quarter of 2019 the two countries did $203 billion in two-way trade, making Mexico the United States’ No. 1 commercial partner for the first time, ahead of Canada and China, according to the Mexican Economy Department.

Sen. Ricardo Monreal, leader of the governing party in the Senate, said the vote was “an important step to diminish the existing uncertainty for North American trade.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Washington, D.C. this week, as part of an effort to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The trade deal has the least path of resistance in Mexico, where lawmakers are expected to ratify the agreement this month.

The trade deal also faces a quick route to passage in Canada, leaving passage in the U.S. the toughest battle to fully ratify the agreement. Canada expects final consideration of the agreement before September. Trudeau is scheduled to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with a planned meeting Thursday with President Donald Trump, according to Reuters.

Trump, along with agriculture groups, have pushed for quick passage of the agreement. However, House Democrats want more time to review the agreement, pressing for potential changes. The agreement must first pass the U.S. House before the Senate can consider the agreement. Nearly 1,000 agriculture groups together last week urged Congress and the Trump administration to finish the agreement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump are to discuss continental trade and their shared challenges with China in a meeting in Washington next week.

The Prime Minister’s Office says the leaders will use next Thursday’s meeting to talk about the ratification of the new North American trade agreement and outstanding trade disputes between Canada and the United States.

The meeting will also give Trudeau and Trump an opportunity to discuss strategy ahead of the G20 leaders’ summit in Japan at the end of the month, which will give them face time with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trudeau and Trump will also talk about two Canadians detained in China for the last six months.

In December, China detained Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in apparent retaliation for the RCMP’s arrest of a Chinese high-tech executive on a U.S. extradition warrant.

Canada is caught between its two biggest trading partners on that issue, with Trudeau insisting Canada has to follow the rule of law but having no luck pressing the case with China’s leaders.

Besides the Kovrig and Spavor cases, China has obstructed shipments of Canadian agriculture products such as canola and pork, claiming that they’re ridden with pests or have labelling problems. On Thursday the government promised that Export Development Canada will put up $150 million in additional insurance backing for canola farmers looking to sell in new markets.

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence has said Trump will press Xi to release Kovrig and Spavor and will link the plight of the two Canadians to broader trade talks between Washington and Beijing. Global Affairs Canada says Spavor received his eighth consular visit from Canadian diplomats on Thursday, one day after Kovrig’s latest visit.

While Trudeau and Trump have crossed paths at various international events in the last year, and had several telephone conversations, this will be their first substantive meeting since the U.S. president insulted the prime minister a little over a year ago after departing the G7 in Quebec.

The two leaders have continued to engage because both governments needed to wrestle a conclusion out of the often acrimonious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump forced on Canada and Mexico.

Now, with the recent removal of U.S. tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum imports, there is renewed momentum to ratify the new trade pact.

Mexico’s Senate is expected to give its final legal approval to the new deal next week, but a delicate political dance continues between Ottawa and Washington over ratification. Trudeau has tabled the government’s ratification bill and it is winding its way through Parliament — slowly — ahead of next week’s adjournment of the House of Commons.

Canadian government sources have said the House could be recalled after its summer recess, in a last session before the October federal election, to deal with ratifying the new NAFTA if the U.S. Congress doesn’t deal with the matter promptly. As much as the government wants to move “in tandem” with the U.S. toward final approval of the new agreement, it doesn’t want to get too far ahead.

Some Democrats in the House of Representatives are less enthusiastic about the new deal, and some would like to deny Trump a trade victory. Some Democrats have said they want to see stronger provisions on labour and environmental standards in Mexico but that country’s lawmakers have approved a new labour-reform law that has won plaudits in Ottawa and among many other lawmakers in Washington.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland concluded a two-day visit to Washington on Thursday, meeting two leading Republican and Democratic senators. A day earlier, Freeland discussed trade with U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer and China with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Expanding U.S. export markets is vital to the success of American pork producers, but trade disputes with some of our top markets, most notably China, are hampering growth and have caused severe financial harm to U.S. hog farmers, National Pork Producers Council Vice President and Counsel of Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano said today at a Global Business Dialogue event in Washington, D.C.

“Mostly because of free trade agreements, the United States is the leading global exporter of pork. As a result, U.S. pork is an attractive candidate for trade retaliation. America’s hog farmers – and many other sectors of U.S. agriculture – have been at the tip of the trade retaliation spear for more than a year,” Giordano explained to the briefing at the National Press Club.

 

While Mexico’s 20 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork was recently lifted, America’s producers still face a stifling 62 percent tariff into China. There are enormous trade opportunities with China, especially to help offset reduced domestic production due to African swine fever (ASF), a pig-only disease with no vaccine treatment that poses no human health or food safety risks, but that is almost always fatal for hogs, Giordano noted.  ASF has spread to every province in China, other parts of Asia and in Europe.

Giordano said NPPC is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Customs and Border Protection to strengthen biosecurity at our borders and on our farms to prevent its spread to the United States.

“We have always known that China holds more potential than any market in the world for increased U.S. pork sales. But, today, because of African swine fever, that potential is off the charts, offering the single greatest sales opportunity in our industry’s history,” said Giordano. “China needs reliable suppliers of pork now, and likely, well into the future. The question U.S. hog farmers are asking: ‘Will we get the main course, or will we get the crumbs off the table?'”

“For most of the last year, the U.S. pork industry has the dubious distinction of being on three retaliation lists: China and Mexico related to U.S. actions under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and China in response to U.S. tariffs imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974,” Giordano said. Last year, Mexico was the industry’s largest volume market and China was the third top market by volume, although punitive tariffs imposed by those two countries have cost U.S. pork producers $2.5 billion over the last year.

“U.S. pork production costs are among the lowest in the world with safety and quality that are second to none. But for the retaliatory duties, the United States would be in a perfect position to take advantage of this massive import surge in the world’s largest pork-consuming nation and single handedly put a huge dent in the U.S. trade imbalance with China,” Giordano said. Instead, Chinese pork buyers are reaching out to those in Europe, Canada and Brazil for supplies. “What should have been a time of enormous prosperity and growth for U.S. pork producers and their suppliers will instead fuel jobs, profits and rural development for our competitors,” he noted.

“U.S. hog farmers understand the challenges faced by this administration in recalibrating U.S. trade policy toward China. The issues are myriad and complex. Moreover, hog farmers appreciate the farmer aid packages that the administration has put forward,” Giordano continued. “However, the China pork tariff needs to be lifted.”

Giordano’s full remarks can be read here.

LINCOLN — Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman announced the creation of an International Grow Nebraska Agriculture trade team within NDA’s Ag Promotion and Development focus area. The team will be led by NDA Assistant Director Amelia Breinig.

“Trade is important to Nebraska and the creation of this trade team broadens the base of our international trade responsibilities,” said NDA Director Wellman. “NDA has always been dedicated to promoting agriculture abroad. This new trade team structure puts a renewed emphasis on international trade.”

NDA’s international trade team focuses on the sales, promotions and value-added aspects of Nebraska agricultural products in the international marketplace. Team members continue to promote new opportunities for international trade as well as support existing relationships with our current trading partners. The international trade team consists of Mark Jagels, Angel Velitchkov and Jordan Schlake.

In the area of international trade, NDA is currently working on increasing: livestock exports to South America; dry edible bean exports to Bulgaria; and pork, beef, dry edible beans and soybean exports to Vietnam. For 2019, Governor Pete Ricketts has scheduled trade missions for Vietnam and Japan in September and Germany in November. In the next year, NDA is set to host multiple delegations visiting Nebraska on reverse trade missions.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that the World Trade Organization needs mending to keep up with the times.

Morrison said many leaders attending the Group of 20 summit in Osaka later this month share the view.

“There is a strong consensus about the need to modernize the WTO and its rules,” he said.

“We need to mend it, we don’t need to break it, and mending it requires a lot of partnership,” he added. “Just now it’s the technical practical things that need to get done.”

Morrison, who spoke at a lunch organized by the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, didn’t go into the specifics of what needed to change.

But he referred to a “very practical” speech by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at an annual security conference last week.

Lee said multilateral institutions like the WTO were “far from perfect” and in need of reform.

“Multilateral global deals like the Uruguay Round are no longer practical, when agreement requires a full consensus among 164 member countries of hugely diverse interests and philosophies,” he said.

“Furthermore, the WTO was designed for an agricultural and manufacturing-based world economy, but the world has moved on to services and now increasingly digital and intellectual property, which need much more complicated rules,” Lee added.

Morrison is on his first overseas trip after a shock election victory in May. It includes stops at the Solomon Islands, Britain and Singapore.

Mexico is warning of possible retaliation if President Trump moves forward with planned tariffs on Mexico due to border crossings. Mexican officials flew to Washington over the weekend ahead of a planned summit Wednesday.

President Trump over the weekend continued his pressure on Mexico, taking to Twitter to say, “We want action, not talk,” regarding the border crisis. Trump says he will impose the tariffs to pressure Mexico to block Central American migrants from crossing the border into the United States. Those tariffs would increase by five percent every month through October, capping at 25 percent. Advocacy group Farmers for Free Trade says in a statement the move by Trump “will likely invite retaliation on the products we export to Mexico,” including agricultural products, electronics, and car parts, among others.

The group says tariffs on imports from Mexico could lead to $25 billion in higher costs for American consumers. The tariffs promised by Trump were announced as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement made progress towards implementation in all three member countries last week.

The National Pork Producers responded to President Trump’s plan to impose a five percent tariff on all Mexican imports by June 10. NPPC President David Herring appealed to Trump to reconsider his plans to open a new trade dispute with Mexico. “American pork producers cannot afford retaliatory tariffs from its largest export market which Mexico will surely implement,” he says. “Over the last year, trade disputes with Mexico and China have cost hard-working U.S. pork producers and their families about $2.5 billion.”

Herring is asking Washington to move forward with ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and preserve zero-tariff pork trade in North America for the long term. “We’re also asking for a trade agreement with Japan,” he says, “as well as a resolution to the trade dispute with China. U.S. pork has a historic opportunity to make inroads into the Chinese market as the country continues to struggle with the African Swine Fever outbreak.” For most of the past year, American pork farmers have lost about $12 per hog due to trade retaliation by Mexico, which recently lifted the retaliatory tariffs last week.

Those numbers come directly from Iowa State University Economist Dermot Hayes, who says U.S. pork producers will lose the entire Mexican market if they face protracted retaliation. Mexico brought in 20 percent of total U.S. pork exports last year.