WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Vince Peterson, president of U.S. Wheat Associates, in Dec. 10 testimony at a U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) public hearing and through written testimony has urged the USTR to help protect U.S. wheat exports to Japan.

In his testimony, Peterson thanked the Trump administration for making negotiations with Japan a priority. But he also noted that the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) set to go into effect on Dec. 31 has the potential to slash wheat export sales to a key U.S. market.

Peterson said the CPTPP will give preferential access to Canadian and Australian wheat exports by reducing the effective tariff on the two countries’ wheat exports. He said the reduction will be about $70 per tonne, or about 45% below the current effective tariff applied to U.S. wheat. With no incentive or obligation to change the tariff reduction schedule the United States could be shut out of the Japanese market, he said.

“U.S. Wheat Associates has had an office in Tokyo for more than 60 years,” Peterson said. “We have invested countless hours and millions of hard-earned farmer dollars and federal export market development program funds building this market. During that time, the Japanese milling industry has become an indispensable partner for U.S. wheat farmers.”

Peterson described Japan as the United States’ “largest, most reliable and valuable market for U.S. wheat.” He said the country consistently returns almost $1 billion per year to U.S. wheat farmers and the grain trade.

“All that is at risk without a U.S.-Japan agreement that quickly ends the preference Canada and Australia gain as members with Japan of the CPTPP,” Peterson said. “We thank you for understanding the plight of these farmers, who already face severe trade disruptions in other markets.”

He added, “U.S. wheat farmers and Japan’s flour milling industry hope that we can maintain provisional equivalence for U.S. wheat imports while our two countries conduct ongoing, good faith negotiations. And we urge the administration to act quickly to save our market in Japan.”