Janet M Riley, the organisation’s senior vice-president, public affairs, noted yesterday (23 January) that the Trump administration had decided “to withdraw from the TPP in favour of bilateral agreements with nations”. She said: “We value our trade relationships with Asia and we look forward to discussing paths to access these markets so we may expand our industry and ensure both job and economic growth at home.”
The institute is the oldest and largest trade association representing US packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey.
In his presidential memorandum ordering the withdrawal, President Trump said the US would “permanently withdraw the United States from TPP negotiations”, telling his trade officials “to begin pursuing, wherever possible, bilateral trade negotiations to promote American industry, protect American workers, and raise American wages”.
‘Trade is vital’
Also speaking yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the new administration favoured bilateral trade because it enabled the US to negotiate better terms for itself, while with multilateral agreements, trade liberalisation moved at the pace of countries favouring closed economies, the “lowest common denominator”, he claimed. With bilateral deals, “if anyone wants to get out of an agreement, they can renegotiate it much easier,” he argued.
The meat institute hopes that these deals will come soon. “Trade is vital to the economic health of the US meat and poultry sector and the local American communities in which meat and poultry companies operate. An estimated 24% of US pork, 14% of US beef and 20% of broilers are exported,” said Riley.
She pointed to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures which said that every US$1 billion of American agricultural exports in 2015 generated 8,000 American jobs throughout the economy. Agricultural exports in 2015 required 1,067,000 full-time civilian jobs, which included 751,000 jobs in the non-farm sector.
“US beef consumed in Japan can generate jobs and taxes that funds schools, roads and police and fire departments in towns like Garden City, Kansas, and Schuyler, Nebraska; lost trade opportunities abroad can mean lost jobs at home,” she warned, noting that while meat and poultry consumption in the US had levelled off, “export opportunities allow us to continue to grow our domestic industry.”