Kick Japan and Canada out of trade deal talks, US lawmakers urge Obama

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 9:56pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 9:56pm

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers said Japan and Canada's refusal to drop all barriers to farm imports under a Pacific trade deal was unacceptable and urged the US administration to cut them out of the talks if they did not give ground.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, 140 members of the House of Representatives, nearly one-third of the chamber, expressed "deep concern" about the state of agriculture market negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks involving 12 countries from the Americas and Asia.

They say that both countries are pressing for the exclusion of numerous tariff lines that would significantly limit access for US farmers to those markets.

Japan had made an "unprecedented and objectionable" offer exempting numerous products from tariff elimination, which could set a damaging precedent for other trade talks, they said.

"We urge you to hold Japan and Canada to the same high standards as other TPP partners. Otherwise, Congressional support for a final TPP agreement will be jeopardised," the letter said. "Indeed, we urge you to pursue the TPP negotiations without any country, including Japan, Canada, or others, that proves unwilling to open its market in accordance with these high standards."

Farm lobby groups have already threatened to oppose the TPP, which is key to the Obama administration's policy in Asia, if they do not get better access to Japan and Canada's markets.