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Public Statements

Letter to United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - Address Barriers to U.S. Pork Exports

enators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today led a group of 31 senators in writing a letter to United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about the importance of addressing barriers to market access for American pork producers in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The senators noted the importance of exports to the economic well-being of U.S. pork producers and the U.S. economy as a whole, writing, "U.S. pork production supports an estimated 550,000 domestic jobs, around 110,000 of which are the direct result of exports. Pork exports now make an annual surplus contribution of nearly $5 billion to the overall U.S. trade balance."

Currently, there are numerous market access barriers for U.S. pork in countries participating in the TPP, such as Japan's complex system of tariffs. These barriers limit the contributions U.S. pork exports can make to the U.S. economy. The senators insisted to Ambassador Froman and Secretary Vilsack that, as part of the TPP agreement, all tariffs and non-tariff barriers on pork in TPP partner nations be eliminated.

Full text of the letter follows.

December 13, 2013

Ambassador Michael Froman
Office of the United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20508

Secretary Tom Vilsack
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Ambassador Froman and Secretary Vilsack:

We write to emphasize the importance of addressing market access barriers to U.S. pork exports in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

We know that you are both well aware how important exports are to the economic well-being of U.S. pork producers and the U.S. economy as a whole. U.S. pork production supports an estimated 550,000 domestic jobs, around 110,000 of which are the direct result of exports. Pork exports now make an annual surplus contribution of nearly $5 billion to the overall U.S. trade balance.

Around the world, however, numerous market access barriers exist that prevent pork exports from contributing even more to the domestic economy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiation presents an important opportunity to open new markets to U.S. pork in the Asia-Pacific region, to expand several existing markets, and to establish a standard for all future trade agreements involving pork. The participants in the TPP negotiations represent significant markets for increased U.S. pork exports with the successful removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers.

Currently, U.S. pork producers encounter highly restrictive trade barriers that slow the growth of U.S. exports into a number of TPP participant countries. Japan, for example, maintains a complex system of tariffs that reduces the price and quality advantages of U.S. pork. Vietnam, in addition to burdensome administrative requirements, continues a reference price scheme on imported pork that raises the cost to import certain pork cuts above the market price. Furthermore, despite an existing bilateral trade agreement, Australia still uses non-tariff barriers to limit U.S. exports to either processed pork or frozen, boneless pork for further processing.

It is estimated that if tariffs and all non-tariff barriers are eliminated in each TPP nation, U.S. pork exports will grow by over 50 percent within 10 years of implementation. We strongly urge you to insist that all tariffs and non-tariff barriers on pork in TPP partner nations be eliminated as part of the TPP agreement.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar
U.S. Senator Deb Fischer
U.S. Senator Tom Harkin
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt
U.S. Senator Carl Levin
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts
U.S. Senator Tim Johnson
U.S. Senator Mike Johanns
U.S. Senator Robert Casey
U.S. Senator Richard Burr
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin
U.S. Senator Rob Portman
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk
U.S. Senator Mark Udall
U.S. Senator John Thune
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill
U.S. Senator John Barrasso
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown
U.S. Senator James Inhofe
U.S. Senator Richard Durbin
U.S. Senator John Cornyn
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn
U.S. Senator Mark Pryor
U.S. Senator Patrick Toomey
U.S. Senator Jerry Moran
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson
U.S. Senator Mike Lee


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