U.S. potato industry wants fresh market access in Japan

The CEO of the National Potato Council says work is underway to expand access in a top market for U.S. potatoes.

For the past 20 years the U.S. potato industry has been trying to gain market access for table stock potatoes in Japan. The country already takes processed and chipping potatoes. Kam Quarles says Japanese officials keep dragging their feet, because the potato industry doesn’t want the competition.

“The discussions have gone on and they have no end point. That’s what we’re pushing for right now, to conclude those discussions.”

Next week, Quarles will attend a trade meeting with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and their Japanese counterparts in Japan. Quarles says he was hoping for a pest risk assessment by that meeting to advance the discussion and instead, there’s been more back-and-forth between the two countries.

“We had settled on a pest list a number of years ago. Japan had provided an update to that pest list, which was very voluminous and had a number of potato pests that had never been seen in the United States, it looked more like a Google word search instead of a list between the two countries,” he says. “In the past 24 hours, APHIS responded quickly to that pest list and discounted the majority of those issues because they didn’t apply between the two countries. Then, Japan responded with another list.”

Quarles says there’s a strong desire from Japan to keeping dragging out the process and it’s something the U.S. will need to push past to be successful in getting market access.

He says once the assessment is in hand it will be at least one year before U.S. fresh potatoes can be exported to Japan.

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