The top USDA trade official, Ted McKinney, says he anticipates a trade deal with Japan will likely take place if the United States doesn’t re-enter into the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
McKinney says he doesn’t know what the scope of the agreement will be but calls it “not a matter of if, but when.” He spoke about the topic during the Agricultural Outlook Forum. President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the TPP during his first week in office. Since then, the remaining 11 countries have agreed to a revamped deal, knowns as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The 11 countries intend to sign the new deal early next month. McKinney says the timing of the U.S. potentially landing a trade pact with Japan or with other TPP countries is critical for American agriculture, which is competing for Asian market share. He says the administration’s effort to strike bilateral trade deals will depend, in part, on how the U.S., Canada, and Mexico wrap up the NAFTA negotiations. “I hope we don’t have to wait until NAFTA is done before we get going on other deals,” McKinney says.
He does worry about the issue of bandwidth, as the U.S. trade officials are all focused on the NAFTA negotiations.