In-Depth Analysis of TPP Shows Rice Right to Abstain for Now

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WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. International Trade Committee (USITC), an independent, quasi-judicial Federal agency with broad investigative responsibilities on trade matters has released a long-awaited analysis of the mammoth Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, and the findings aren’t making the strong case for the deal that the Obama Administration likely had hoped for.  

The almost 800-page report estimates a modest gain for the U.S. economy with consumer purchasing power up 0.23 percent over the next 16 years with the deal as compared to not having the deal in place.  Some agriculture sectors do well with pork, beef, poultry, and dairy making net gains in exports over imports, but the same cannot be said for rice according to the USITC.

Rice remains the only agriculture sector that has not publicly taken a position on the pending trade deal between 12 nations, saying they believe the deal to be deficient for rice, but that they will hear the U.S. negotiating team out.  That non-position appears to be validated by the USITC report.

“U.S. rice production is expected to be marginally lower under TPP than without in response to lower exports,” the report says.  “Exports would decline because the U.S. rice industry may find that gains in access to the Japanese market are more than offset by lost sales…in Mexico, where the United States would lose its current tariff advantage over Vietnam.”

“As we’ve said from the outset, we don’t believe the modest gains presented in the deal offset the potential losses that will result from the deal,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  “However, we’re not giving up on turning this into a win for U.S. rice farmers and we’re seeking some clarity and assurances around some of the issues, specifically with regard to access to Japan, solidifying our number one market of Mexico, and seeking meaningful compliance by our trading partners with existing agreements.”

USITC previously studied rice and global competitiveness at the request of the House Ways and Means Committee and found that rice is the commodity with the most government interference around the world.

“We hear all the time that rice is a sensitive commodity around the world,” Ward said.  “Well guess what?  We feel the same way.”