US - A group of former agriculture secretaries have written an open letter saying that the opening of new markets is critical for farmers and rural communities.
The former secretaries were giving their backing to the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which aims to reduce barriers to trade in twelve countries around the Pacific rim.
The twelve countries make up nearly 40 per cent of the world's economy.
However, the agreement must still be approved by the US Congress.
The group included seven former ministers going back to 1986, who referred to their experience of negotiating such trade deals, saying that this had showed them how important trade is to farmers.
The secretaries said that by opening new markets in Japan, Viet Nam, and other countries, the US would give producers access to new customers and expanding their sales. These sales will generate more farm production, and related activities, that they say will grow the US economy.
"For American agriculture there is no downside to TPP, and there is substantial upside. Hence, we strongly support a vote of approval by the US Congress," the former secretaries said.