Congress Passes Three Key FTAs

October 13, 2011 03:02 AM

Yesterday both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate voted in favor of the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Now the agreements are headed to the president’s desk for final approval.

According to the International Trade Commission, the three agreements, once fully implemented will create 250,000 jobs and represent nearly $2.5 billion in new agriculture exports.

“The three free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama provide great opportunities for America’s farmers,” says National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer, a corn farmer from Auburn, Ill.

The deals could potentially be a boon for the livestock industry as well.

For the pork industry, the deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, when fully implemented, will generate nearly $772 million in new pork sales, add more than $11 to the price producers receive for each hog marketed and create more than 10,000 pork industry jobs, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.

“It was extremely important that we approved these FTAs now,” says Doug Wolf, National Pork Producers Council president and a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis. “Because while these deals have languished for more than four years, our competitors have negotiated their own trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, and the United States has lost market share in those countries.”

The agreements would also level the playing field for U.S. beef by reducing and eliminating import tariffs imposed by Colombia (80%), Panama (30%) and South Korea (40%), according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association President and rancher Bill Donald. Once Congress approves the free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, the U.S. will ultimately have free trade for U.S. beef with approximately two-thirds of the population in the Western Hemisphere.

Tom Suber, president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council says that the agreements will not only help expand export sales for such products as cheese, whey, skim milk powder, and other dairy products, they also will prevent foreign competitors from taking market shares that the U.S. industry has developed in each of the countries in collaboration with USDEC. 

"Passage of these agreements represents a step forward for the dairy industry toward becoming a more consistent exporter," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "Exports have become vital to the future of our industry, so it's important to pursue free trade agreements and other policies that will allow for the continued growth of our industry in a global economy. We thank the administration and Congress for their leadership in completing these agreements."

The combined benefits of the three agreements will bring the dairy industry an anticipated increase of more than $400 million in annual exports of cheese, whey, milk powders and other dairy products. This increase could bring as many as 10,000 jobs across the dairy value chain. IDFA encourages the administration to work out the technical details with these three countries so the agreements may be put into force as soon as possible. 



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