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USDA's McKinney expects Japan trade deal if no TPP rejoin

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There is at least now some mention of a bilateral trade deal potentially being pursued by the Trump administration, something that has been talked about very little in the wake of the administration signaling their displeasure with multilateral trade deals.

A bilateral trade deal with Japan is expected to be pursued by the US, USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Services Ted McKinney said at the USDA Outlook Forum, particularly if the US does not get back into what was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement – now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). "I don't know what the agreement will be, but it's not a matter of if but when," McKinney stated.

As for the prospects of the US getting back into TPP, McKinney said it was not clear what President Donald Trump has in mind. Trump raised the prospect of rejoining TPP in Davos, Switzerland, telling CNBC he would consider rejoining TPP If the US could get a substantially better deal.

"My sense is the world is watching how NAFTA will be concluded," McKinney said. "We must do that first, and then we can get on to other trade deals." However, he said he hoped activity on Japan would pick up even with NAFTA 2.0 talks still unfolding.

Meanwhile, USDA announced McKinney will lead a trade delegation to Central America beginning next week. The trek will head to Guatemala February 26-March 2, with McKinney being accompanied by a delegation of agribusiness and state government leaders seeking to grow US agricultural exports to Central America’s Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.



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