While most eyes are on a trade deal with China, one former top Ag negotiator said the U.S. cannot ignore the importance now and into the future of Southeast Asia. Darci Vetter, former Chief Ag Negotiator at USTR was heavily involved in negotiations of TPP. The U.S. walked away from that 12 nation trade deal hours after President Trump took office in early 2017. And while both Republicans and Democrats were critical of portions of the multi-nation trade agreement, Vetter said whether it’s TPP or something else, the U.S. has to continually ask itself “what are we doing about Southeast Asia?”.
“TPP was designed to ensure we had a foothold in that region, as well as with the high market of Japan, but I don’t yet see a plan for engagement or a thorough negotiation going on with some of the anchor economies in that region. And the population growth and the growth of the middle class could be a huge opportunity for U.S. farmers, but only if we start forging those relationships now.”
If something changes with the Trump Administration, or if the Democrats take the White House in 2020, Vetter said there is a path for the U.S. to reengage with TPP.
“When the CPTPP countries, that is the 11 others that went ahead without us after we left the TPP, when they forged that new agreement they used the term that they left us a parking place, and that they hoped that the U.S. would come back into the fold at some point, and they would like to see us be part of that agreement.”
Vetter was a speaker at this year’s American Bankers Association National Ag Bankers Conference.
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