March 23, 2012
The administration continues negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement involving Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam with interest expressed by Canada, Mexico and Japan in joining the talks.
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), as the trade group for the U.S. sheep industry, is addressing the inclusion of lamb in the agreement having had meetings in February and March with multiple agencies and officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and leaders of the U.S. Senate.
"The American lamb market is already freely traded so any discussion of lamb in the TPP must be preceded by the United States opening up export markets for U.S. lamb producers," stated Peter Orwick, ASI executive director. "No markets have been opened for American lamb in the past decade and, in fact, none of the markets closed to us when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was found in a Holstein cow in Washington State more than eight years ago have been secured."
ASI has investigated Vietnam as the only market in the current TPP group that may hold promise. We don't envision the inclusion of Australia or New Zealand as opportunities for us to export and those two countries already have unrestricted access to the U.S. market.
"American companies shipped lamb to Japan until the BSE situation in beef so a return of access to that market would be a great start for our export interests," commented Orwick. "We have U.S. lamb companies interested in exporting sheep products and we have emphasized those requests during our meetings with administration and senate contacts."
In addition to the TPP, American lamb access to the European market has been a key topic of discussion, as well as markets such as China that are not open for shipments today.