President Trump’s trade deal with Japan is an immediate win for North Carolina farmers, and it will only get better with time.
The historic agreement further opens Japan’s markets to American agricultural producers, reducing our reliance on exports to China — which has been a volatile trading partner, to say the least. Beijing has repeatedly promised to make large purchases of American foodstuffs as the trade talks have progressed, but in many cases it has later reneged, causing consternation for farmers. The deal the President just struck with Japan will take away China’s ability to use America’s farmers as leverage in its effort to avoid accountability for decades of rampant trade abuses.
Japan is the third-largest export market for American agricultural products, and our trade relationship with that country is about to become a lot closer. In 2018, American farmers exported $14.1 billion worth of goods to Japan, but only a little over a third of those exports were duty-free. The new trade deal eliminates or reduces tariffs on $7.2 billion worth of American agricultural goods, which will significantly boost sales in the Japanese market for America’s farmers.
North Carolina stands to gain more than most from the new deal, which slashes tariffs on many of our state’s top farm products. Tariffs on some products will be eliminated immediately, while other tariffs will be phased out over time.
Blueberries are one of the products slated for immediate tariff elimination. That’s good news for North Carolina, which is among the top 10 states for blueberry cultivation. In 2016, the Tar Heel State boasted more than 100 blueberry-growing operations, which together produced over 48 million pounds of blueberries with a market value of nearly $70 million.
The new trade deal also phases out tariffs on other vital components of North Carolina’s agricultural industry, including chicken and pork, both of which we produce in abundance. Increasing our exports of those products will have lasting benefits for employment, in addition to boosting farm incomes.
North Carolina consistently ranks among the top five states for poultry production, for instance. The $3.9 billion industry represents the largest share of our total agricultural economy, supporting more than 145,000 jobs and contributing $37 billion to North Carolina’s GDP. Those figures will only go up with the implementation of the new trade deal, and that’s great news for the 5,700 farming families that produce poultry and eggs in this state.
Pork is another important North Carolina agricultural product that we will soon be able to export to Japan duty-free. As with poultry, North Carolina is one of the largest pork producers in the country. According to the Agriculture Department, cash receipts from hog sales were over $2.3 billion in 2017, making up roughly one-fifth of our state’s commodities industry and supporting meaningful jobs for about 46,000 workers employed on 2,100 North Carolina hog farms.
Opening the Japanese market to these exports will provide greater financial security to North Carolina’s agricultural community — something that all farmers can appreciate.
Just as importantly, though, the deal with Japan decreases our reliance on China as an export market. Throughout the ongoing trade negotiations, the Chinese government has held our farmers hostage with false promises and cancelled orders. Taking that leverage away will give the U.S. an enormous leg up as we continue to pursue a genuinely fair trade agreement that ends China’s abusive trade practices.
That’s what makes President Trump’s deal with Japan such an historic victory for American farmers, especially the ones right here in North Carolina.