WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — More than 30 U.S. food and agriculture groups submitted a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee urging support for the swift implementation of a Phase One U.S.- Japan Trade Agreement that was negotiated earlier this year.

The letter emphasizes that implementation of the Phase One U.S.- Japan Trade Agreement stands to benefit farmers, ranchers, and workers in the food and agriculture community.

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Japan is the United States’ fourth‐largest agricultural export market.

The U.S. ag and food groups in support of Phase One are pleased the playing field is being leveled against their competitors benefiting from tariff reductions under the Comprehensive and Progressive for Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP).

Under the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, over 90% of U.S. food and agricultural imports into Japan will either be duty free or receive preferential tariff access once the agreement is implemented, according to the Office of the USTR.

“The progress that has been made thus far to solidify the Japanese market for agricultural exports is highly encouraging for U.S. farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses,” said John Bode, president and chief executive officer of the Corn Refiners Association. “As this administration continues to seek out strong and fair-trade deals across the globe, it is critical that we maintain competitiveness in key markets such as Japan. We look forward to negotiations on a Phase Two agreement.”

The Office of the USTR said U.S. food and agricultural exports totaled nearly $145 billion in 2018, supporting more than one million U.S. jobs. Global demand for these products is growing but so is competition among suppliers.

The industry comments cited the economic benefits of this agreement, noting that:

“Of critical importance is the expected implementation in January 2020, providing the agreement’s parity treatment with CPTPP imports,” the USTR said. “Upon implementation, U.S. exporters will reestablish their footing with CPTPP competitors in most tariff reductions and establish deeper and new trade relationships in the Japanese marketplace. Further, U.S. beef, pork, poultry, dairy, fruit and vegetable, grains, and other food and agriculture exporters and processors are eager for the commencement of second-phase negotiations to build on the market access gains achieved in the Phase One deal, as well as begin discussions on non-tariff barriers to secure a comprehensive trade pact for consideration by Congress..”