With the approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the agricultural industry in the U.S. could change.
The new trade regulations would slash tariffs on Florida’s exports, like citrus and beef, to countries like Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia. In return, countries that import their own agricultural products into the U.S. would receive tax cuts.
Negotiations among the 12 countries involved concluded Oct. 4. The White House sent Congress an intent to sign the agreement, which kicked off a 90-day waiting period for the document. Congress has 30 days to review the measure before it becomes public for anyone to read, and then brought to a vote, according to the Office of the United Trade Representative.
The main goal of the document is to open trade markets. Yet its implications on Florida markets, and specifically the agricultural market, could end up increasing beef export sales, according to the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.
Alachua County is ranked third in the state for agricultural exports, according to the Alachua County Farm Bureau. The bureau estimates that with more than 1,600 farms, the county generates upwards of $280 million in agricultural product sales each year.
The Florida Cattlemen’s Association thinks the tax cuts on imports and exports will be good for Florida’s economy when it comes to beef and cattle. The association supports the passing of the agreement.
“We see it as only growing our export markets, not only to Japan, which is our leading export market right now, but to other markets in the Pacific Rim,” said Dusty Holley, the field services director at the association.
Holley said the Florida Cattlemen’s Association has been working with its partner, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, on this trade agreement to decrease tariffs on exporting beef for nearly five years.
Marisa Zansler is the director of economic and market research at the Florida Department of Citrus. She explained in an email that citrus greening, a disease that infects Florida’s orange trees, has left a strain on the industry that increasing exports could financially help out.
“The agreement comes at a time when Florida citrus producers are faced with higher costs of production associated with citrus greening, so any relief to make the products more competitive in those expanding regions would serve to benefit the producers and local economy.”
University of Florida economics professor Mark Rush sees some possibility for Florida’s overall economy if the agreement passes but said the negotiations have the potential drawback of trade diversion.
“It means we in the United States would be importing products from not the low-cost producer,” Rush said.
He went on to say this would stem from the fact that only 12 countries are part of the agreement, and those countries would choose to trade mainly with each other to avoid paying higher tariffs.
He believes a majority of economists support most of the points in the extensive TPP document because of increasingly open trade.
“Some agriculture in Florida will benefit, but I think there are other sectors that will benefit more,” Rush said.
Some of those other sectors of Florida’s economy would include the trading of computers, aerospace parts and phosphates for fertilizers.
Congress will decide the fate of the TPP agreement in a final vote after the public review period.