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Japan agreement creates optimism for future deals

Article cover photo
President Donald Trump and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a trade agreement earlier this week in New York. The agreement calls for tariff reductions on frozen beef and pork. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Bethany Baratta, ISA senior writer

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a trade agreement earlier this week, set to expand market access to the United States’ third largest agricultural market.

While the agreement doesn’t change anything specifically for U.S. soybean exports—the United States exported $947 million of soybeans to Japan in 2018—it’s welcome news, said Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Tim Bardole.

“There’s nothing soybean specific in the agreement, but it does include expanded access for U.S. pork, beef and poultry—the largest consumers of our product,” said Bardole, who farms near Rippey.

The United States exported $14.1 billion in U.S. food and agricultural products to Japan in 2018, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

The agreement, signed Wednesday in New York, calls for tariff reductions for fresh and frozen beef and pork. The United States is also expected to benefit from tariff elimination for frozen poultry and processed pork products, among other commodities, the agreement says.

Grant Kimberley, ISA’s market development director, said he hopes this agreement sets the stage for other agreements which could provide a larger benefit for the U.S. soybean industry.

“This shows that we (the United States) can actually get a trade deal done,” he said. “Hopefully this means momentum to get other trade deals done.”

At the top of the list, he said, is a resolution of the trade dispute with China and the ratification and passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Contact Bethany Baratta at


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