Cantwell Meets with Japanese PM Abe, Goes to Bat for Washington Farmers, Ranchers

Cantwell: “Japan is a critically important market for Washington state”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the 50th anniversary of the Port of Seattle and the Port of Kobe, Japan becoming sister ports, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss strengthening the Japanese-American economic relationship. Cantwell expressed noted that the two countries would continue their strong alliance and advocated on behalf of Washington state’s farmers, ranchers and businesses.

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the sister port relationship between Kobe and Seattle I was very pleased to discuss and reinforce our strong and productive relationship with the Prime Minister. Japan is a critically important market for Washington state for a wide range of products - we discussed everything from wheat to aviation and high speed transportation," said Cantwell. “We also reiterated the importance of our strong trade relationship, how to make it even more productive, and reinforced the importance of maintaining our long standing U.S.-Japanese alliance.”

Despite Japan being the third largest trading partner with Washington state, farmers and ranchers face significant barriers to selling their products in the Japanese market. For example, Japan has a 5% tariff on pears, 9% tariff on cherries, 17% tariff on apples, and a 38.5% tariff on beef. Japan also has strict import quotas for U.S. wheat, allowing only 5.7 million tons of wheat into the country each year.

For the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Japan is the second-largest trading partner, with two-way trade in 2016 equaling $17.4 billion. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that opening up markets in Japan could grow Washington state exports by 18.7%.

Cantwell and Abe also discussed important regional security ties.