WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. potato industry leaders last week applauded an announcement by the Obama Administration that it supports the inclusion of Japan in ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks. The TPP, a potential trade pact between the United States and 10 other countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam), would enhance trade and investment among the TPP partners.
“The inclusion of Japan in TPP will be a tremendous boost for the U.S. potato industry, which currently ships one-fourth of its exports to that country,” said Randy Hardy, NPC's Vice President of Trade Affairs and owner of Hardy Farms in Oakley, Idaho. “The TPP provides a unique opportunity for U.S. potato growers and the rest of the industry to expand this already burgeoning market.”
Japan is the largest export market for U.S. potatoes, with a value of more than $400 million in FY12, up 10 percent over FY11. Japan’s participation in TPP is expected to result in the elimination of tariffs, which currently range from 8.5 percent on U.S. frozen fries to 20 percent on some U.S. dehydrated potatoes. Eliminating these tariffs would create greater access to high quality U.S. potato products for Japanese consumers.
Should Japan officially join the talks and the TPP be formalized, the U.S. potato industry anticipates:
*The frozen potato market to increase by $140 million over the next five years, with total sales approaching $500 million by 2017;
*Dehy exports to experience an annual growth of 10 percent, leading to annual exports of around $50 million by 2017;
*Fresh chip-stock exports to grow by at least 25 percent per year, resulting in total annual sales of $25 million by 2017; and
*Fresh table-stock exports approach $100 million per year in five years once sanitary and phytosanitary access is granted.
In March, Japan's Prime Minister Shinz? Abe formally announced the country wished to join the TPP. The nation must now receive the approval of all negotiating countries to be added to the negotiation table.