With the Trump administration pulling the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership when it took office in January, a Florida Republican is looking for closer trade relations with one of the Asian nations that had been part of it.
At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., the vice chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, teamed up with U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., to bring out a resolution aimed at strengthening trade with Japan. The proposal urges the Trump administration to pursue a bilateral trade agreement with Japan. At the end of January, Yoho took over as chairman of the House Asia and Pacific Subcommittee.
Yoho made his case for why the bill was needed.
“As the United States’ fourth largest trading partner in 2016, pursuing a bilateral trade agreement with Japan would only continue to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship,” Congressman Yoho said. “This trade agreement will provide additional opportunities for the free flow of goods between our two nations. Additionally, a U.S.-Japan bilateral trade agreement will signify that the United States is not only willing, but intends to stand by one of its most important and trusted allies and remain engaged in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Smith focused more on agriculture as he explained why he backed the resolution.
“We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to reduce trade barriers with Japan, especially for U.S. agriculture producers,” Smith said. “We have already seen the results of U.S. inaction on trade. For example, Japan currently levies a nearly 40 percent tariff on U.S. beef, while Australia, which established its own agreement with Japan, only pays a 28 percent tariff on the same export. Strong trade policy strengthens our relationships around the world, and doing so with Japan, one of our allies and top trading partners, is a logical place to start.”
The agriculture community also came out in support of the resolution, including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association
“For U.S. beef exports, Japan is the highest value international market. Japanese consumers purchased $1.5 billion of U.S. beef products in 2016, despite a 38.5 percent tariff. A successful, comprehensive agreement with Japan would result in one of the greatest trade agreements for the U.S. beef industry, and we appreciate the leadership of Reps. Smith and Yoho in working to expand our export markets,” said Craig Uden, the president of NCBA.
“America’s pork producers thank Rep. Smith and Rep. Yoho for introducing a resolution urging the Trump administration to pursue a free trade agreement with Japan,” said National Pork Producers Council President Ken Maschhoff. “An FTA with Japan, the U.S. pork industry’s number one export market, would exponentially expand our exports and create American jobs. Without one, though, we could lose market share to competitors such as the European Union.”
Smith and Yoho reeled in 10 co-sponsors for the resolution which was sent to the House Ways and Means Committee.