FTA Movement Welcomed

US - The American Farm Bureau has welcomed the recent breakthrough in the free trade agreement between the US and South Korea and believes it will be a boost to beef exports.
calendar icon 5 May 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

In a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk indicated that once the KORUS FTA has been implemented, the United States will request consultations with South Korea to discuss the beef protocol’s full application. Subsequent to the letter, Sen. Baucus announced his support for the trade pact.

And now the Farm Bureau has called for the FTAs not only with Korea but also with Colombia and Panama to be passed by the summer.

Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation said: “Recent statements by the U.S. Trade Representative and the Agriculture Department in regard to increasing exports of US beef and Korea are the boost needed to help secure passage of the Korea free trade agreement. Farm Bureau commends Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) commitment to this issue and his dedication in securing a breakthrough for greater expansion of U.S. beef in this market.

“Ongoing promotion of U.S. beef, coupled with the reductions of tariffs on U.S. products resulting from the FTA, will likely increase beef exports beyond the current rate of expansion. In recent years, Korean consumers have significantly increased their consumption of US beef. In the past year alone, our beef exports to Korea increased more than 140 percent from the previous year to total $518 million in sales.

“Farm Bureau remains committed to passing all three outstanding FTAs with Korea, Colombia and Panama by the end of the summer. We hope now with the commitment of Sen. Baucus to support the Korea agreement we can accomplish this goal.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has also welcomed news of progress made on the long awaited trade agreement between the United States and South Korea (KORUS FTA).

Bill Donald, NCBA president and Montana rancher, said Sen. Baucus served as a “powerful and committed” advocate for U.S. cattle ranchers throughout the negotiations with Korea.

“As a Montana rancher, it was an honor to hear Sen. Baucus voice his support for this trade agreement, which could be the most impactful trade agreement the United States has entered into in decades. Sen. Baucus has been very instrumental in providing access for U.S. beef into very critical Asian markets,” said Mr Donald.

“We stand behind Sen. Baucus 100 percent and fully support all members of Congress who understand the importance of free trade to the overall success of rural America and the entire US economy.”

When implemented, the KORUS FTA would reduce Korea’s current tariff on U.S. beef from 40 percent to zero over the next fifteen years. The U.S. beef industry would see $15 million in new tariff benefits in the first year alone, with about $325 million in tariff reductions annually once fully implemented. In 2003, U.S. beef producers sold $815 million in beef, beef variety meats and processed beef products to Korea. Once KORUS FTA enters into force, Korea could eventually be a $1 billion market for US beef producers, according to Mr Donald.

“NCBA has been an outspoken proponent of this trade agreement from the very beginning. We will continue to urge members of Congress to ratify this trade pact as soon as President Obama sends it to them,” said Mr Donald.

“The month of May is beef month and this news coming out of Washington is an excellent way to celebrate the importance of safe and affordable beef to all consumers in the United States and abroad.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

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