For decades American growers have depended heavily on wheat exports. The U.S. is the world’s largest wheat exporter and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) works to maintain wheat sales to some 100 countries. Exports are why the recent free trade agreements (FTAs) were welcomed with open arms.
USW is promoting an FTA that will generate even more sales across the Pacific Rim and other Asian regions. Its board of directors recently passed a resolution supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) FTA and is encouraging other countries to join the discussion.
“We support a comprehensive TPP agreement that provides improved market access and includes ambitious language on 21st century trade issues,” the resolution reads. “We also encourage Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia to join the TPP framework.”
USW notes that the Asia-Pacific region has long been a significant destination for U.S. wheat. In market year 2010-2011, the 21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries imported more than 13.8 mmt of wheat, a $4.1 billion value. The importance of the region to the global economy was highlighted at recent APEC meetings in Hawaii. Leaders from the U.S., Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Australia, Peru, Malaysia and Vietnam provided a promising progress report on the ongoing TPP negotiations.
At the same time, Japan, Canada and Mexico announced their interest in joining the two-year-old talks, USW says, adding that, “U.S. wheat producers particularly welcome Japan’s announcement and interest in joining the TPP.” That’s because Japan buys more than 10% of U.S. wheat exports.
“Japan’s entrance into the high-standard TPP could remove imports tariffs and the cost of wheat end-products to Japanese consumers,” USW says. “The entrance of the Philippines would also benefit U.S. wheat producers and customers.
The Philippines is among the many countries in which USW has assisted in educating wheat users in milling and other wheat processing procedures. USW says millers there rely on U.S. farmers to supply about 80% of the wheat they mill every year. Joining the TPP could create a stronger market for U.S. wheat because it would lower duties charged to Philippine importers.
USW reminds us that the TPP, like other FTAs, helps open even larger markets for U.S. growers. “TPP is the best framework to reducing trade barriers for our producers and customers,” USW says.