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Slow progress for U.S. fresh potato access in Japan

The CEO of the National Potato Council says not much has changed for U.S. fresh potato market access in Japan following a recent in-person trade meeting.

Kam Quarles traveled to Tokyo, Japan in late September to participate in meeting to advance market access for fresh table stock potatoes with USDA and Japanese trade officials.

Quarles says Japan wants to continue the decades old market access discussion without deadlines or deliverables, but there is more clarity on the issue.

“This has clearly been elevated to a very high issue between both countries,” says Quarles. “The second clarity we got is there’s a lot of domestic politics that’s pushing back, trying to affect this process.”

Quarles says the technical parts of opening the Japanese market can be done relatively quickly and the U.S. needs to push so discussions can move forward.

“We have to get beyond the talking stage. Talking isn’t action. Japan has to complete processes and agree upon the technical aspects of this market access agreement and deliver that pest risk assessment. We’re asking for it by the end of this year.”

Quarles says the U.S. potato industry doesn’t want to wait until another in-person meeting next fall to continue the discussions, but Quarles says he’s concerned the discussions will be ongoing for many more years.

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