U.S. farmers are in an uproar over signs that Japan will maintain some barriers to agricultural exports under a Pacific trade pact, which threatens to unravel a deal that is central to U.S. efforts to retain economic and security influence in the region.
Four years into Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, U.S. negotiators are fighting to balance the goal of total tariff elimination with the sensitivities of Japanese and American farmers and the needs of other trading partners.
Central to President Barack Obama’s strategic shift toward Asia, the TPP would connect a dozen economies by cutting trade barriers and harmonizing standards in a deal covering two-fifths of the world economy and a third of global trade.
After an April summit between Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a compromise seems likely to allow Tokyo to keep some protection for goods like beef, sugar, dairy or wheat, judging by a change intone from U.S. officials in recent weeks to talk about tariff elimination “to the maximum extent possible.”
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