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Perdue: NAFTA and Japan are Top Trade Priorities
USAgNet - 10/10/2017

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue expressed his disappointed last week in the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations, but said he is optimistic about progress being made in the next round that takes place Oct. 11-15 in Washington, D.C.

"Honestly, we've been somewhat disappointed in the first three rounds, but we think this is the way these things get going," Perdue said at a Washington International Trade Association event on Oct. 4. "If you've ever watched a boxing match, they circle one another for a while, and I think we've been circling."

One of the United States' main priorities will be to open Canada's markets to U.S. dairy and poultry. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, issued a statement supporting Perdue's remarks, noting that "we need to stop circling the ring in NAFTA negotiations and begin laying out concrete agriculture proposals...We're serious about getting this done and we need our Canadian counterparts to understand that time is of the essence here."

During his WITA speech, Perdue also highlighted the Trump administration's interest in entering into bilateral trade agreements with Asian countries, particularly Japan.

"We're eager to enter into bilateral trade negotiations with Japan and lower those barriers to address the preferences that they seem to have currently for Australia, the EU, Chile, Mexico and other countries," he said. "We think our geopolitical relationship with Japan should lead to a preferred status in (trade) as well."

The NGFA and other agricultural stakeholders are eager to take advantage of market opportunities in Southeast Asia, particularly because President Donald Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which included Japan and Vietnam.

In addition to Japan, Perdue mentioned potential negotiations with Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines and India.

"We have significant productive advantages over these countries to grow grain, fruits and produce livestock products," he said. "We need to level the playing field with competitors who have preferential agreements and generally strengthen our commercial ties in this key area of the world."

Trump is traveling to Southeast Asia this fall, and Perdue said the administration is "advising policymakers" on the opportunities there.

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