By Isaac Faz, Acting Assistant USTR for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
Yesterday, USTR’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator Islam Siddiqui delivered remarks to members of the Marketing and International Trade Committee during the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) winter policy conference in Reston, Virginia. Ambassador Siddiqui highlighted USTR efforts to open markets, level the playing field, and keep America competitive.
Before an audience of nearly one hundred, including state directors and other agriculture professionals, Ambassador Siddiqui discussed the recent announcement that the United States and Japan have agreed on new terms and conditions which pave the way for expanded exports of U.S. beef to Japan. The new agreement entered into effect on February 1st. Additionally, he discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the benefits for farmers and ranchers wishing to export to the Asia Pacific region. The upcoming 16th round of TPP negotiations will be held in Singapore on March 4 – 13.
Ambassador Siddiqui also shared good news from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) forecast, which estimates that 2013 agricultural exports are projected at a record $143.5 billion. He also highlighted the Obama Administration’s efforts to ensure further growth of U.S. agricultural exports, by making sure our trading partners are playing by the rules. The Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) has meaningfully increased the Administration’s capacity to investigate and pursue potential trade enforcement cases.
In addition, Ambassador Siddiqui commended the European Commission’s recent issuing of final regulations to allow imports of U.S. live swine, as well as imports of U.S. beef that have been washed with lactic acid, a pathogen reduction treatment. Effective February 25, these measures will significantly help increase exports of U.S. beef and live swine to European customers.
“Our focus remains on enforcing existing trade agreements, negotiating new agreements, and leveling the playing field for our farmers, ranchers, and businesses, thus ensuring greater prosperity for agriculture and for the entire American economy,” stated Ambassador Siddiqui.
To learn more about NASDA, visit its homepage at http://www.nasda.org/.