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Organic Growers Make Global Push as Sales Soar

Organic Growers Make Global Push as Sales Soar

Los Angeles, CA – If Taka Yamaguchi has his way, athletes competing in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be eating organic.

Yamaguchi shared his ambitious plan at a recent Organic Trade Association (OTA) sponsored seminar in Japan attended by more than 100 of Japan’s top grocery retailers, food importers and distributors.

Yamaguchi, executive officer of Organic Japan, was part of a roster of agricultural, organic and food industry experts and policy officials taking part in two OTA programs that brought industry and government leaders together in Tokyo and Osaka to learn about U.S. organic products and familiarize themselves with the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal they feel could help feed the country’s growing appetite for organic.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDOA), U.S. exports to Japan alone are currently estimated at $80 million annually with growth expected to reach at least $250 million within the next decade.

With a grant of more than $700,000 from the USDOA’s Market Access Program, OTA, she said, “is gearing up a far-reaching strategy for next year that will include more organic promotional and education programs in Japan and around the globe.”

Exports “are increasingly important to U.S. producers and handlers. The organic industry is invested in building the relationships and U.S. organic brand awareness required for long-term export growth,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA.

OTA, she said, “will be showcasing the American organic brand in the largest food shows in the world, conducting international seminars on organic regulatory issues, hosting trade missions to connect foreign buyers and domestic suppliers, and helping retailers in the world’s biggest markets sell the value of organic foods.”

The organization plans to follow up its recent success with a repeat in November 2015, when OTA will return to Japan and conduct targeted promotion of organic products to consumers and continue to build relationships, according to Batcha.

In addition to Japan, the organization will attend major “organic-themed” events in Cologne and Nuremburg, Germany; Seoul, Korea; and Anaheim, California.

Demand for organic in the U.S. has grown significantly with organic sales in 2013 hitting a new record of $35.1 billion, while U.S. organic exports in 2013 reached a new high of $537 million, up more than 20 percent from the previous year.

The Washington, D.C.-headquartered Organic Trade Association (OTA) represents more than 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states. Its membership includes growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.



Transpac Trade Deal Forecasted By Years End

Los Angeles, CA – Momentum is reportedly building toward the successful drafting of  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement by the end of the year.

Talks between representative of the 12 nations involved have resumed in Sydney, Australia, with Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb, host of the current round of talks, telling the media that reports from attending trade ministers convey that “there does seem to be a real head of steam.”

All signs, he said, point to a trade agreement being forged “by the end of the year.”


If agreed upon, a TPP, which has been negotiated for several years, would encompass 40 percent of the global economy and hundreds of billions of dollars in goods and services trade.

According to US Trade Representative Mike Froman, trade ministers had been in “almost constant” talks since the last TPP meeting in Singapore in May.

“We are enjoying a great deal of momentum and focus across the board, and it’s up to us to seize that momentum and make sure that this meeting is maximally productive,” he said.

Over the past year, talks slowed while the Washington and Tokyo ironed out several key ‘sticking points’ including Japanese tariffs on agricultural imports and access to Japan’s auto market for US-made vehicles.

“The issues left at the end are often times the most challenging but now is the time to start working through those and finding solutions,” Froman said, adding the TPP “is within our grasp.”

The 12 prospective TPP members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the US.


‘Significant Progress’ Seen in Recent TPP Talks

Washington, DC – The recent negotiations between the 12 Pacific Rim nations crafting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement “made significant progress” on proposed rules for state-owned enterprises despite differences over tariffs remaining one of the obstacles to a final deal.

Spanning ten days in Hanoi, the talks “spent successive rounds trying to narrow the gaps,” said US delegation leader, Barbara Weisel, US Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The TPP would create a free-trade zone from Australia to Peru with $28 trillion in economic output, or 39 percent of the global total. The deal is seen as a major component of the White House’s effort to bolster boost US exports.

The pact, would be the biggest trade deal in US history. The TPP “goes beyond typical trade agreements that focus on reducing tariffs, and highlights issues such as stricter safeguards for patents and copyrights and leveling the playing field for companies that compete with government-backed businesses,” said Weisel.

Responding to the status of the TPP talks, US Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant said, “Now is the time to seize upon the extensive economic benefits that the TPP offers every participating country.”

All parties to the negotiations, he said following a recent USCOC event, “must show the political courage required to make the hard decisions needed to conclude the TPP negotiations soon, as this will not get any easier with time.”

Commenting on what he called the “importance of crafting a high-standard, comprehensive trade agreement,” Brilliant said, “If Japan, the United States, or any negotiating partner cannot meet the high standards of the TPP on market access or rules, then the overall ambition of the agreement will be lowered to the detriment of every nation’s interests. We should all guard against that outcome.”

The proposed TPP’s geopolitical importance, he concluded, “is unmistakable. While we must not subordinate commercial priorities to foreign policy goals, the TPP’s geostrategic importance should strengthen our resolve to achieve an ambitious, comprehensive agreement.”

The countries covered by the trade pact are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the US.

China, which has been excluded from the TPP, is separately moving on trade talks with countries such as South Korea, Japan and Australia.



Dairy Groups Demand Greater Market Access

Washington, DC – Two major US dairy industry groups are saying they will oppose any transpacific trade pact if Japan and Canada “continue to limit their markets to increased US dairy exports.”

Japan and Canada “are dragging their feet…and US negotiators must insist on “meaningful dairy market access,” the National Milk Producers Federation and the US Dairy Export Council said in a recent letter to US Trade Representative, Michael Froman and Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.

The two industry groups said Canada “would probably be guided by Japan in deciding on any changes to its dairy market access” and that any negotiations to forge the Transpacific Partnership (TTP) would have to address New Zealand government programs that are seen to benefit Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter that controls nearly a third of global dairy trade.

“Our support for TPP is not unconditional,” said the letter, signed by 39 US dairy companies and cooperatives.

“The elements cited here, which largely remain unresolved, must be concluded in a positive manner or our industry will find it difficult to support the final agreement.”

The TPP’s stated goal is to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to goods and services trade. USTR Michael Froman said after the Singapore round of TPP talks in May that the US “is pressing for tariffs to be eliminated to the maximum extent possible.”

A spokesman for Froman said the US “had made it clear to trading partners that it expected the final TPP agreement to reflect the ambitious goals all countries signed up to.”

Like all exporters, he added, “America’s dairy farmers have a lot to gain through the Trans-Pacific Partnership and we are working hard to unlock opportunities for them throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”

The TPP would consist of 12 nations that account for two-fifths of the world economy and a third of global trade.




TPP Hinges on Successful Japan, US Trade Pact

Washington, DC – The successful forging of a comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact by the end of this year hinges on the US and Japan “reaching a compromise in bilateral trade negotiations,” according to a top level Japanese trade official.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the Center for International Strategic Studies, Hiroyuki Ishige, chairman of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), said that leaders in both Washington and Tokyo “need to make bold decisions and recognize the strategic importance of finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Each side, he said, “knows his counterpart’s red line. It’s time for them to show the political urge for compromise. There is no perfect TPP.”

Ishige’s comments come as the US and Japan continue with negotiations to resolve their own, often contentious, differences that have become a major hurdle in finalizing the pact, whose 12-member nations account for more than a quarter of total international trade and 40 percent of global economic output.

The US wants Tokyo to open up its rice, beef and pork, dairy and sugar sectors and smooth the way for US car dealerships, while Japan is keen for a timetable on Washington’s promise to eliminate tariffs of 2.5 percent on imports of passenger cars and 25 percent on light trucks.

The TPP is aimed at cutting tariffs and setting trade rules, and is central to the Obama Administration’s attempt to boost American exports to Asia and re-orient US foreign policy toward a region of growing economic importance.

The pact is seen as a precursor to a future wide-ranging free-trade arrangement for the entire Pacific Rim region.

The other countries negotiating the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.