A group of bipartisan U.S. Senators, led by Senate Chicken Caucus Co-Chairs Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), expressed concern yesterday regarding trade restrictions on U.S. chicken products by several countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks.
TPP is a proposed trade agreement currently under negotiation by Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
In a letter sent yesterday, 11 senators urged U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman and U.S. Agriculture Secretary (USDA) Tom Vilsack to do everything possible to provide for open markets and fair trade of U.S. chicken products.
"The TPP represents a significant opportunity to expand U.S. chicken exports and bring increased economic benefits to chickens growers and companies across the country… Your ongoing commitment to seek the highest possible standard agreement is appreciated," the senators wrote.
"I want to thank Senators Coons and Isakson for their leadership on this issue, and the other nine senators who are working to bring fair and open market access for U.S. chicken products," said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown in response to the letter. "TPP is a valuable opportunity to expand agricultural trade, including poultry, and we appreciate these senators keeping our interests on the front burner for USTR and USDA as negotiations continue."
In addition to Coons and Isakson, senators signing the letter are: Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
"We are particularly concerned about Canada's supply management program that severely limits U.S. chicken exports to our northern neighbor," the senators continued. "As you know, despite ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada has continued to impose restrictions on imports of U.S. chicken products and the U.S. has been unsuccessful in lifting those restrictions. We urge you to continue to work to address this long-standing, unjustified issue during the TPP negotiations and create true free trade for U.S. poultry.
"Similarly, we are concerned about Australia and New Zealand's use of non-scientific barriers related to poultry disease that prohibit trade of U.S. chicken products to these countries. If Australia and New Zealand are to participate in the TPP, they should conform to World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards.
"Finally, Japan's administrative guidance sets an unofficial quota on U.S. chicken products. Japan is a significant potential market for U.S. chicken products and a truly open trade agreement would create substantial opportunity for growth."