“It is encouraging to see the United States and Korea one step closer to a working free trade agreement that will create jobs and increase the profitability of America’s cattlemen and women. For too long, we have missed opportunities to obtain a competitive advantage in Korea by sitting on the sidelines while our competitors complete deals.
“First and foremost, we thank Senator Max Baucus for his unwavering efforts to reopen the Korean marketplace to U.S. beef in 2008. Because of his commitment, the market potential for U.S. beef is nothing short of phenomenal. Since the market reopened, sales have grown rapidly and should exceed $500 million this year, making Korea the fourth largest buyer of U.S. beef. Without his commitment, I am confident we would not be nearing the passage of this free trade agreement. While we support continuing efforts to obtain full market access, it is imperative we act quickly to prevent our competitors from having the upper hand.
“We must remember that this is not over. Congress must ratify this agreement and should do so quickly. If Australia beats us to the signing table, they would have a 2.67 percent tariff advantage over U.S. beef for the next 15 years. When this agreement is finally signed, sealed and delivered, it would phase out Korea’s 40 percent tariff on beef imports. We are talking about $325 million in tariff reductions annually once fully implemented. We thank the President and his administration for their efforts and we look forward to working with them to urge Congress to ratify this free trade agreement. This is the beef industry’s stimulus package.”