Is U.S. be­ing left be­hind?

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - FORUM -

The 12-mem­ber Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) has a new, more awk­ward name, the Com­pre­hen­sive and Progressive Agree­ment for Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (CPATPP), and one less part­ner, Don­ald Trump’s U.S.A.

The Pa­cific trade agree­ment also ap­pears now to have a new lease on life even if it af­fects a smaller share of the world econ­omy. It’s a much smaller deal with­out the U.S. and scal­ing back the de­tails is likely part of work re­main­ing to com­plete the pro­posed agree­ment.

Cer­tainly, that’s the im­pres­sion of Dairy Farm­ers of Canada, whose new pres­i­dent, Pierre Lam­pron, is­sued a con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sage Satur­day to Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau for his “courage” in hold­ing out for fur­ther talks. Al­though the min­is­te­rial state­ment didn’t men­tion agri­cul­tural trade specif­i­cally, Lam­pron clearly ex­pects any new deal will in­volve less mar­ket ac­cess for dairy im­ports to Canada than the 3.25 per cent mar­ket share pro­vided orig­i­nally in TPP.

The re­vival of Pa­cific trade talks also shows other na­tions con­tinue to favour broader ini­tia­tives and raises fur­ther con­fu­sion about the iso­la­tion­ist drift of cur­rent U.S. pol­icy. Then, again, any dis­cus­sion of the Trump pres­i­dency must con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity that there is no or­ga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple.

Re­cent commentary on the an­niver­sary of Trump’s elec­tion has reached a level of high ridicule. The Novem­ber is­sue of Van­ity Fairy in­cludes a let­ter from Edi­tor Gray­don Carter that pon­ders the pend­ing end of Trump’s pres­i­dency. So toxic has the commentary be­come, it’s pos­si­ble to be­gin feel­ing sorry for the pres­i­dent.

“The man who came to Wash­ing­ton claim­ing that he would drain the swamp will, when he ex­its, leave the city -- and the na­tion -- high and dry, save for a clump of yel­low hair clog­ging the drain,” Carter’s let­ter con­cludes. Now that’s harsh.

Even so, it is hard to un­der­stand the sense of an in­creas­ingly iso­la­tion­ist U.S. trade pol­icy un­der a pres­i­dent who keeps talk­ing about the im­por­tance of open trade while erect­ing bar­ri­ers wher­ever he goes.

Trump has ex­pressed a pref­er­ence for bi­lat­eral agree­ments. He has shown lit­tle progress so far on bi­lat­eral agree­ments, how­ever, even as he tears up ex­ist­ing mul­ti­lat­eral ar­range­ments. To cite a ready ex­am­ple from agri­cul­ture, Ja­pan boosted tar­iffs in July on frozen beef im­ports un­der ex­ist­ing law from coun­tries with­out a re­cip­ro­cal free trade agree­ment.

That in­cludes the U.S. which holds by far the largest share of Ja­pan’s beef ex­port mar­ket. In re­sponse to the beef tar­iff boost, U.S. Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Sonny Per­due is­sued a state­ment of con­cern about its im­pact on U.S. beef ex­ports to Ja­pan worth about $1.5 bil­lion last year.

Ear­lier this month, the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s For­eign Agri­cul­tural Ser­vice pub­lished a re­port warn­ing of the im­pact of a fu­ture trade deal be­tween Ja­pan and the re­main­ing 11 Pa­cific part­ner­ship na­tions on U.S. pork ex­ports. In 2016, Ja­pan was the lead­ing ex­port mar­ket for U.S. pork val­ued at $1.6 bil­lion.

The U.S. is by far the top ex­porter of fresh pork to Ja­pan with 58 per cent of the mar­ket. But this is where it gets com­pli­cated be­cause Amer­ica’s part­ners in NAFTA stand to gain from Trump’s game of mu­si­cal trade part­ners.

Both Canada, which has in­creased its share of the Ja­panese pork mar­ket­place to 39 per cent in re­cent years, and Mex­ico, where ex­porters sourced about three per cent of Ja­pan’s sup­ply, re­main part of the evolv­ing Pa­cific part­ner­ship.

A re­cent Ja­pan Times edi­to­rial ar­gues the goal of 11 re­main­ing Pa­cific part­ner­ship na­tions should be “to bring the U.S. back to the pact.” No doubt many U.S. pol­icy mak­ers and elec­tors would agree.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Canada's Trade Min­is­ter FranÁois-Philippe Cham­pagne, right, at­tends the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) Min­is­te­rial Meet­ing ahead of the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) lead­ers sum­met in the cen­tral Viet­namese city of Danang on Novem­ber 9, 2017. World lead­ers and se­nior busi­ness fig­ures are gath­er­ing in the Viet­namese city of Danang this week for the an­nual 21-mem­ber APEC sum­mit.

JIM AL­GIE

THOUGHT FOR FOOD

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.