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US seeks to wrap up IPEF this year, with sustainability in ag chapter

Agri-Pulse | 5 June 2023

US seeks to wrap up IPEF this year, with sustainability in ag chapter

By Bill Tomson

The U.S. aims to wrap up negotiations on the 14-nation Indo-Pacific Economic Framework this year, but not before key provisions on sustainability are added to the agriculture chapter of the deal, Chief U.S. Agriculture Negotiator Doug McKalip said Monday.

Due to the benefits of the agreement, "We want to get it on the books as quickly as we can,” McKalip said in a speech at the Agri-Pulse Food and Ag Issues Summit West. He reassured Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo this week that the goal is to finish IPEF this year.

One of those benefits, McKalip said, will be an agricultural sustainability agreement.

Nations often try to use sustainability regulations as a ruse to erect trade barriers, and the U.S. goal is to prevent that happening in IPEF nations, the top ag trade official at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said.

IPEF includes the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Any conservation planning for issues like soil erosion and water quality needs to be tailored to regional soil types, crops planted, irrigation methods and precipitation amounts, he said.

“Unfortunately, these days many countries … in the name of climate or sustainability put in one-size-fits-all policy approaches which end up being a real barrier and … in the long-run discourage farmers from making investments in stewardship and conservation.”

McKalip stressed that the goal is not to put standards before flexibility.

“A farmer or rancher in Utah having to implement a conservation practice that was tailored for New Hampshire wouldn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense,” he said.

 source: Agri-Pulse