Tag Archives: Japan

The United States and Japan are the world’s largest and third largest economies, totaling around 30 percent of the world’s economic output. Japan is the fifth largest consumer of U.S. exports, our fourth largest source of imports, and a top-three consumer of Nebraska’s beef, corn, pork, soybean, egg, and wheat exports worldwide. This is why news of a potential trade agreement to be negotiated between the United States and Japan should be greeted warmly.

Modern trade agreements aren’t just negotiated to address tariffs – they also typically address other issues such as intellectual property protection and accounting standards. In just one example, Japan currently levies a tax of 38.5%, which can escalate as high as 50%, on American exports of beef. Countries which have successfully negotiated trade agreements with Japan, such as Australia, currently have an advantage over the US in the Japanese market because they face dramatically lower rates of tariffs.

Because such an agreement would hold enormous benefits for Nebraska ranchers and farmers, I introduced legislation last year expressing support in Congress for a bilateral trade agreement to be negotiated between our two countries. I have further expressed this sentiment to President Trump and senior administration officials on many occasions. I made the case directly to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, during the last week of September.

International trade does not have to be a zero-sum game. In the case of Japan, they have negotiated bilateral trade agreements with Australia, the European Union, and Mexico, among others, which means their producers enjoy preferential access to Japanese markets relative to American producers. We need to even the playing field and give Nebraska producers the ability to compete fairly.

President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently met at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to discuss our trade relationship. After the meeting they issued a joint statement recognizing the importance of reciprocal trade and the need for a trade agreement between our countries. Given China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region, which threatens Japan, and also our current trade disputes with China, increasing trade and security ties between the U.S. and allies like Japan could help to ensure that China behaves appropriately going forward.

I support trade agreements because reducing regulations, decreasing taxes, and facilitating productive trade policy are among the best ways the federal government can stimulate sustainable, long-term economic growth. So far, President Trump has delivered on his promises to cut burdensome regulations and sign tax reform into law. Negotiating a trade agreement with Japan would add to our list of accomplishments during his first two years in office.

LINCOLN, NEB. – “Ever since the President pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, we have urged the Administration to follow through on its promise of developing bilateral free trade agreements with TPP member countries, especially Japan. Today’s announcement that the United States and Japan have agreed to enter trade talks is tremendous news and couldn’t have come at a better time.”

“Japan is already our largest trading partner for Nebraska beef, and a major purchaser of Nebraska agriculture commodities including pork, corn, soybeans, wheat, grain sorghum, and dairy products. There is no doubt that a bilateral agreement with Japan would be a major win for Nebraska farmers and ranchers if the U.S. is able to reach an agreement with similar terms to those previously negotiated under the TPP, specifically as it relates to tariff reduction on agriculture products.”

“TPP was projected to be a boon for Nebraska agriculture, increasing agriculture cash receipts by more than $378 million per year when fully implemented, with much of that gain attributed to increased trade with Japan. If the U.S. can lower Japan’s existing 38.5 percent tariff on U.S. beef which was slated to gradually decline to 9 percent under TPP, that would be a major victory for Nebraska, the ‘beef state’.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today released the following statement after President Trump announced plans to begin formal trade negotiations with Japan.

“I applaud President Trump for moving to begin trade discussions with Japan, and I look forward to continuing to engage with the Administration, especially as it relates to agriculture,” Roberts said. “In 2017, the U.S. exported nearly $12 billion in agricultural exports to Japan, placing it as our fourth largest destination. There is a great deal of potential to continue to grow that market, particularly for wheat and beef. At a time when rural America is in a rough patch with low prices and uncertain trade markets, this announcement is positive news.”

On Sept. 13, Chairman Roberts held a hearing to gain insight from the Trump Administration on its trade efforts. Roberts urged officials to strengthen current trade agreements and aggressively seek new agreements with countries like Japan. Click here to read and watch Roberts’ opening statement, as well as the full hearing.

From his post as both Chairman of the Agriculture Committee and as a senior member of the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction on trade, Roberts has long been outspoken on the benefits of increased access to foreign markets for American farmers and ranchers. Roberts has taken his concerns directly to President Trump, U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and other high-ranking officials in the Administration on numerous occasions.

OMAHA – Governor Pete Ricketts was joined by 400 U.S. and Japanese delegates for the third and final day of the 50th Annual Conference of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association (MWJA) in Omaha.  The Governor presided over closing ceremonies this afternoon.

“It’s been an honor to host the 50th annual anniversary of this important conference, which helps us strengthen the ties between the Midwest U.S. and Japan,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Midwestern states provide a great opportunity for Japanese companies to be able to invest and grow, and while doing so create great-paying jobs.  We’re grateful for the business and cultural relationships we share, and look forward to creating new opportunities and partnerships, while continuing to build upon our bilateral trade going further into the future.”

The MWJA conference is considered to be the pinnacle forum for discussion on strengthening business and trade relationships between Japan and the Midwestern states.  Omaha was selected to host this year’s special 50th anniversary.  The longstanding and important economic ties between Japan and the United States have been a focal point of the event, the theme of which is “Growing Together in a Global Economy.”

Featured speakers at today’s closing session included Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer; Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker; Shizuoka Prefecture Vice Governor Akihito Yoshibayashi; MWJA Japan Conference Chairman Yuzaburo Mogi, MWJA U.S. Conference Honorary Chairman Gordon Dobie; and the Honorable Mitsuhiro Wada, Consul General of Japan in Detroit.

During the ceremonies, Governor Ricketts presented a token of appreciation to Koji Nagasaka—Director of Nebraska Center Japan, a division of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) devoted to Nebraska-Japanese economic relations—for his service.  The Governor also presented Consul General Wada with a gift on behalf of the State of Nebraska.

The conference kicked off Sunday at Anthony’s Steakhouse before a welcoming event at Kaneko gallery.  On Monday, daily proceedings commenced at the downtown Hilton.  Monday night, the Governor hosted the delegates for MWJA’s 50th Anniversary Gala at the Durham Museum, sponsored by Union Pacific (UP) and Kawasaki.  UP Chairman, President, and CEO Lance Fritz and Kawasaki President Yoshinori Kanehana joined Governor Ricketts on stage for keynote remarks.  The evening closed with music by Omaha’s own Mannheim Steamroller.

Today’s slate began with a breakfast featuring keynote speaker Ted McKinney, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.  Governor Ricketts presented Under Secretary McKinney with a Sandhill Crane painting in appreciation of his advocacy for the Midwest and Nebraska agriculture.

Breakfast was followed by a plenary session that highlighted success stories on trade and investment between Japan and the Midwest.  Featured private sector participants included J.P. Morgan and Co., Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., Ltd, Nebraska-based Preferred Popcorn, Marubeni Corporation, and Keizai Doyukai.  The session was moderated by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Chairman and CEO Hiroyuki Ishige.

Nebraska and Japan share their own success story, with Japan being the second-largest importer of Nebraska products outside of North America and third-largest agricultural export market overall. Nebraska’s exports to Japan topped $1.03 billion in 2016, while beef and pork exports to Japan increased by 26 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

Governor Ricketts also met one-on-one today for an interview with the financial publication Nikkei, followed by a meeting with Shizuoka Prefecture Vice Governor Akihito Yoshibayashi, in which the leaders discussed the decades-long friendship between Nebraska and Shizuoka.  Omaha and Shizuoka, the prefecture’s capital city, have had a sister city relationship since 1965.

The delegates wrapped up the conference this afternoon with a tour of Kawasaki’s facilities in Lincoln.  Kawasaki USA, a subsidiary of Japan-based Kawasaki Heavy Industries, has been investing in Lincoln since 1974, and recently expanded with a first-in-the-U.S. aerostructures division.  The company employs over 2,000 Nebraskans.

More information about the conference proceedings can be found at midwest-japan.org.