ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — A letter signed by nearly 90 U.S. agriculture associations, organizations and companies was sent to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, urging the negotiation of a trade deal between the United States and Japan.

Lighthizer met with met with Japan’s Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi April 15-16 in Washington, D.C., U.S., beginning negotiations on a potential trade deal. Further meetings between the two countries were promised.

The groups want the trade agreement to restore, expand and accelerate access for the U.S. food and agricultural products into the Japanese market.

The letter to the USTR describes the beneficial growth a trade deal between the two countries could create.

“As the fourth largest market for U.S. agricultural products, improved access to Japan is imperative for the continued growth of the sector and the millions of American jobs it helps support,” the letter said.

According to the letter, the U.S. food and agriculture industry are having difficulty competing within the Japanese markets due to agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the European Union-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (E.U.-Japan EPA).

“In recent weeks, Japan cut tariffs for the second time on agricultural imports from the European Union and CPTPP member countries,” the letter said. “As a result, U.S. exporters of wheat, beef, pork, dairy, wine, potatoes, fruits and vegetables, and other products are facing collapse of their Japanese market share as these lucrative sales are handed over to their competitors.”

The ag groups said it is important for the potential trade agreement between the United States and Japan to include market access provisions that at least equal the terms of the CPTPP and the E.U.-Japan EPA in the first stage of implementation.

In reaction to the USTR meeting with Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in mid-April the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) supported the talks.

“The Trump administration has described several trade policy problems facing U.S. industry,” the association said. “USW agrees with many and questions some, but we have strong hopes for an improved global trading system following the disruption that many see as necessary to rebalance trade relationships. The administration clearly has not forgotten U.S. agriculture, as the USTR statement proves. Concluding an agreement with Japan to offset the effects of withdrawing from TPP would be a crucial and welcome step toward demonstrating to U.S. farmers that their interests still matter.”