REPORTS suggest US president Donald Trump has made an about-face on his decision not to participate in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.
A release from US Wheat Associates (USW) on Friday congratulated Mr Trump for his move in asking his trade officials to explore avenues whereby the US could re-join negotiations on the TPP.
This comes after Mr Trump made a point last year of pulling out of TPP talks, saying he preferred an ‘America first’ policy.
However, now it seems the US leader is warming to the idea of the TPP, which has 11 other nations around the table at present, following heavy lobbying from influential farming lobby groups.
The US agriculture sector is delighted with the news as it will mean it has access to key markets on equal terms as major competitors such as Australia.
“Putting it simply, joining TPP is the best way to avoid a potentially devastating loss of wheat sales to Japan,” said USW Chairman Michael Miller, a wheat farmer from Ritzville, Washington.
But the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) says Donald Trump can’t just “waltz back in” on the Trans Pacific Partnership and expect to receive “windfalls”,
The erratic US President signalled during the 2016 Presidential election campaign that he would adopt a more protectionist stance on free trade deals like the TPP or North American Free Trade Agreement that he felt failed to advantage America.
He boasted exiting the TPP which was one of his first moves following inauguration in early 2017, while in more recent times his anti-free trade rhetoric has been backed up by action, igniting a tit-for-tat tariff war against China that has alarmed US farmers at a time when they’ve warned farm incomes are struggling.
NFF CEO Tony Mahar said a new style of TPP agreement had been reached – minus the US – which was one his national peak farm lobby group and the Australian agriculture sector had been a strong supporter of.
Mr Mahar said Australian farmers wanted to retain their competitive advantage which current existed in markets like Japan on products like major exports like beef, grain and dairy.