Farmers had mixed reactions after the administration of President Donald Trump announced on Inauguration Day that the United States would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Those opposed to the secretive 12-nation free trade pact welcomed the move, while others who were preparing for its eventual passage appeared uneasy.
Kiyomi Moriki, a 68-year-old Wagyu farmer in Kawaminami, Miyazaki Prefecture, has been trying to raise the quality of his product so consumers will keep buying it even if beef imports get cheaper under the trade deal.
“I’m partly relieved, but I wonder what all my preparations were for?” he asked.
A rice farmer in his 30s in the city of Niigata welcomed the change but also admitted he had mixed feelings.
“If bilateral trade negotiations start, conditions could be even worse for farmers. So I cannot just be happy about it,” he said.
Kazue Kobayashi, a 57-year-old cattle farmer and TPP opponent in the town of Bekkai, Hokkaido, was pleased with the development.
Noting that the government had been arguing that Japan would be able to sell high-quality farm products overseas if the TPP comes into force, Kobayashi said Tokyo had forgotten its role.
“What the government is supposed to do is to protect domestically produced products and have them be consumed in the country,” he said.
Following Trump’s inauguration Friday, the trade policy section on the White House’s revamped website made clear that the new administration’s “strategy starts by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and making certain that any new trade deals are in the interests of American workers.”
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe completed the TPP ratification process on Friday, the day Trump was inaugurated.