Where the U.S.-Japan Trade Deal Falls Short

While President Trump has called his new trade deal with Japan a “phenomenal” victory for U.S. farmers, there are several agriculture products left out of the agreement announced recently.

The deal’s full text has not been released and remains classified, but congressional aides, trade experts, and industry groups briefed on it say that it offers no access to Japan for some U.S. agricultural goods.

U.S. butter, milk powder and evaporated milk, along with some grains, would have competed with other TPP signatories for Japan’s new import quotas under the Pacific Rim deal.

“There are some specific parts of the ag sector that really do benefit from this,” said Matthew Goodman, an Asian economics expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “More broadly, this is not a highly significant deal from a commercial perspective, as it doesn’t touch the biggest item in bilateral trade, autos and auto parts.”

Apart from the lack of improved access for butter and milk powder, exact details of cheese provisions in the U.S.-Japan deal are not yet known. America’s rice growers won’t benefit from the new bilateral trade deal, as tariffs and quotas on U.S. rice imported to Japan set in the early 1990s remain in place. Barley also will not get improved access in the trade deal, congressional aides said, as Japan did not expand its TPP-wide quota for the grain used widely in beer production.

But some gains bring U.S. beef, pork, and wine exports in line with TPP competitors from Australia, New Zealand and Canada, putting them on the same tariff schedule.