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Trump’s TPP U-turn met with caution by farmers

“A bad deal”, “one of the worst trade deals”, “a disaster” is how United States President Donald Trump described the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) before taking office.

Almost immediately after his inauguration, President Trump made good on his promise and withdrew the US from the deal.

Overnight, the President threw that rhetoric out the window and announced that his country wanted back in.  

The move came as a shock to many, including to Australian farmers, who stand to benefit significantly from the TPP.

National Farmers’ Federation Chief Executive Officer Tony Mahar said the enormity of the US economy and its role in world politics, meant it was always preferable to have the US in the tent.

However, he said farmers were now conscious of protecting the market advantages they’d secured as a result of the US walking away from the deal.

It is a priority for Australian farmers that we retain our competitive advantage that we currently have in markets such as Japan for products like beef, grain and dairy.
Tony Mahar, National Farmers' Federation Chief Executive

Depsite the US abandoning the deal, the 11 remaining parties, including Australia forged on and during March signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Mr Mahar said having almost rendered the deal's future terminal, the US had to be reasonable in its re-entry expectations.  

"The US walked away from the TPP and while we welcome the interest from the US particularly in light of a potentially damaging tariff war which has been developing lately with China, there should not be an expectation that they or any other country can immediately come back in and receive windfalls or immediate advantages.

"This is an important trade agreement for Australian farmers.

"The expectation is that we need it ratified by our Parliament as soon as possible, so farmers can take full advantage of the reduced tariffs and improved market access conditions.

"Should the US formally seek to join the TPP they be required to renegotiate their entry and access.

"It must not come at a significant disadvantage to Australian farmers," Mr Mahar said.

Overall the delivers improved market access for dairy; cotton; barley; beef and live cattle; offal, processed meat and animal fats; sheepmeat; seafood; sugar, wheat; and wine.

President Trump has tasked his trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and his new chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow to look into the US' re-entry to the TPP. 

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