For the Week Ending August 16, 2019

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On Wednesday, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released its long-awaited proposal to increase flexibility for truckers by revising the rules around the amount of time they can drive their loads and when they are required to rest between drives. Among the changes sought by NPPC is additional flexibility for livestock haulers who encounter unexpected, adverse driving conditions and the ability to divide the mandatory, 10 hours of rest into separate segments. The FMCSA proposal does both: It addresses the challenge of adverse weather by expanding not just the driving time, but also the overall on-duty time for drivers to finish their delivery. The proposed rule also allows truckers to split up their 10-hour mandatory rest period into two periods (one being at least 7 hours long), and creates an option for drivers to take an extended break between 30 minutes and 3 hours, which pauses their on-duty clock. This will allow drivers the option of resting when tired while providing greater flexibility for completing deliveries and maintaining high animal welfare standards. It will also help drivers better manage their schedules when waiting, either to unload a delivery or at a truck wash station. The Trump administration’s proposal is a smart, common-sense approach to maintain highway safety and provides much-needed options for drivers to comply with Hours of Service rules in a variety of situations that allow them to safely and humanely transport the animals in their care. NPPC thanks the Trump administration for their continued efforts to balance safety and the need for flexibility, and we look forward to continuing to work them to finalize these important changes. Comments will be due within 45 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register, expected on Aug. 20.

U.S. and Japanese trade officials completed two-day talks in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, agreeing to meet again possibly next week. The two countries are ramping up negotiations on proposed tariff reductions on agricultural and industrial products. The countries are considering holding ministerial trade talks in Washington on Aug. 21 and 22, economic and fiscal policy minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at a news conference in Tokyo. That would follow a summit meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of a Group of Seven summit in France later this month. U.S. pork producers are currently at a significant disadvantage in Japan because international competitors have recently entered into trade agreements with the country, including the EU and CPTPP nations. NPPC is urging the Trump administration to expeditiously finalize negotiations and quickly implement a deal in 2020 with Japan to prevent continued U.S. pork market share loss in its top value export market.

On Tuesday, the Office of the Trade Representative announced it would delay tariffs on Chinese imports of a handful of products—set to go into effect on Sept. 1– until Dec. 15. Recently, President Trump announced that the U.S. planned to impose 10% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports. In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump wrote, “As usual, China said they were going to be buying ‘big’ from our great American Farmers. So far they have not done what they said. Maybe this will be different!” Also on Tuesday, senior Chinese and U.S. trade officials spoke on the phone, China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement. Chinese Vice President Liu He spoke with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Both sides agree to talk again on the phone within two weeks,” the statement noted. However, by Thursday, China’s finance ministry said the country has to take necessary counter-measures to the U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

Earlier this week, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton was in London, helping to lay the groundwork as the U.S. and U.K are working on trade negotiations. He met with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Trade Secretary Liz Truss, among other officials. During his visit, Bolton said the U.K. would be “first in line” for a trade deal with the U.S. once it has left the EU. Bolton said the purpose of the visit was to “convey President Trump’s desire to see a successful exit from the European Union for the United Kingdom on October 31.” In October 2018, the White House announced plans to negotiate a trade agreement with the U.K. NPPC is supportive of negotiations, provided the agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff trade barriers on pork and embraces Codex and other international production standards. Additionally, NPPC seeks full recognition by the U.K. of the equivalence of U.K. and U.S. production practices for pork and acceptance of pork from all USDA-approved facilities.