ASA Backs Trans-Pacific Partnership, Will Press Congress to Approve

The American Soybean Association (ASA) endorses the recently released Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and calls on Congress to take up and approve the agreement as quickly as possible.

“The TPP is a good deal for soybean farmers and our livestock customers. We back it and we will push Congress to do the same,” said ASA President Wade Cowan, a farmer from Brownfield, Texas. “We know that this will further expand our access to valuable markets in Asia and Latin America, but specifically, there are several key sections of the agreement that will move our trade significantly forward. The sanitary and phytosanitary provisions contained in the TPP will help eliminate many of the non-scientific barriers to market entry that hang us up in particular markets, and the biotechnology provisions in the agreement will help to ensure that from export partner to export partner, science is the common framework on which our soybean technology is regulated.”

The TPP, if approved, will eliminate tariffs on soybeans, soybean oil and soybean meal in each of the 12 TPP nations within a set timeframe. In Japan, tariffs on soybean oil will be eliminated within six years. In Vietnam, tariffs will be eliminated in 11 years per the agreement, and in Peru the TPP eliminates tariffs my 2018. Immediately, the agreement lifts tariffs for soybeans, meal and oil in New Zealand, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as on soybean meal in Japan.

“The U.S. and our 11 partner nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership represent 500 million potential customers and more than 40 percent of the global economy. What’s more important, though, is that these partner nations represent many of the most promising established and emerging markets for U.S. soy and meat,” said ASA First Vice President and Delaware farmer Richard Wilkins. “The TPP helps grow the markets in these economies, and as they grow, their demand for American products grows as well. Most importantly for soybean farmers, their demand for meat protein grows. That drives production here in the States, which creates demand for our soybean meal as livestock feed.”

Cowan and Wilkins also praised the administration for its work in bringing the TPP to its current state.

“A huge amount of credit goes to Ambassador Froman, Ambassador Vetter and the entire team at USTR,” said Cowan. “They brought our needs and concerns to the table, along with our nation’s massive range of other industries, and crafted a deal that will help grow our economy, both on the farm and in the city.”

“A significant thank you goes to Secretary Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Harden, Under Secretary Scuse, and Administrator Karsting at USDA for the work they’ve put in to ensure that this deal was struck in such a way that is workable and practical for American farmers,” Wilkins added.

The spotlight now shifts to Congress, where the agreement faces a stiff political headwind, an issue that Cowan says is significant but not insurmountable.

“We’ve seen climates like this before, complete with political polarization and the added stress of an election year, but even in those times, we’ve still managed to put together a coalition of industries and congressional allies to move beneficial packages through,” Cowan said. “Trade Promotion Authority was no easy lift, but we found Democrats and Republicans alike that saw the distinct promise of trade for our businesses. That sensible, middle-ground coalition will be key to approving TPP as well, and we call on Congress to take up this effort and approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership as quickly as possible.”