July/August 2016
Trade Pact Benefits By John Keeling

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an Asian-Pacific regional free trade agreement among 12 nations, will open new markets for U.S. exports and offers the potential of nearly $1.5 billion in total exports of potatoes.

john_keeling_headshotIn recent weeks, editorials from major news outlets have pointed to the numerous benefits that TPP would secure. For example, Bloomberg’s editorial board stated that the deal would boost the U.S. economy, help convince naysayers that the U.S. remains capable of cooperation both within Washington and throughout the world, and convince Asian nations that the U.S. has interests in the region it’s willing to defend.”

The economic gains are undeniable. The recently released U.S. International Trade Commission’s report on the potential economic impact of TPP provided an assessment of the likely impact of the agreement on the U.S. economy as a whole and in specific sectors. The report indicated that agriculture and food would see the greatest percentage gain relative to the baseline projections. After 15 years of the agreement in place, output is estimated to be $10 billion higher. The services sector would benefit with a gain of $42.3 billion in output. The report solidified potato’s support of TPP with statistics relative to our sector, and confirmed that lower tariffs on exports would allow potato growers and exporters to meet the rising demand in the Asia-Pacific region.

Making U.S. potatoes and potato products more competitive in the rapidly growing Asian markets is of utmost importance for the industry’s long-term success. U.S. demand for potatoes is strong, but in a rapidly shrinking world, reaching other markets is necessary to prosper.

The agreement’s positive effects on potatoes include reductions to tariffs in Japan and Vietnam, two top markets with high tariffs, and the creation of a better structure to solve conflicts over unjustified phytosanitary measures.

With countries such as New Zealand and China also seeking to expand their market share in Asia, the U.S. cannot afford to be left behind. NPC has publicly called for TPP passage before the next U.S. president takes office. To ensure U.S.-grown potatoes and potato products are a world player and to broaden market opportunities, all of us need to pressure Congress to pass TPP.

NPC’s message focuses on enabling the industry to compete more effectively. This agreement will confirm strong U.S. commitment to Asia, level the playing field and bolster agriculture. Without TPP, the U.S. faces the loss of its power in a growing market.

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