US Beef Industry Champions FTA

SOUTH KOREA - The US beef industry urged Washington not to change the free trade agreement with South Korea because it’s been so beneficial to it.
calendar icon 4 August 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

Korea Joongang Daily reports that this is the first industry to make the call since the Office of the United States Trade Representative called for a Joint Committee meeting with its Korean counterpart to discuss revisions to the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (Korus) last month.

"Simply put, Korus created the ideal environment for the US beef industry to thrive in South Korea," the CEOs of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the North American Meat Institute and the US Meat Export Federation wrote in a letter on Sunday.

"We would not support any changes in the terms of the Korus that would jeopardize either our market share or the significant investment that has been made in rebuilding Korean consumer confidence in the safety, quality, and consistency of US beef."

These organisations encouraged the Trump administration to reconsider the North American Free Trade Agreement instead of totally withdrawing from it earlier this year.

The groups represent many rural American farmers, key supporters of President Trump. The three US beef associations represent the entire beef value chain, from ranchers to feedlot operators, meat packers and exporters, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said in a press release Sunday.

"Under Korus, the US beef industry has seen an 82 per cent increase in annual sales to South Korea, from $582 million in 2012 to $1.06 billion in 2016, making South Korea the second largest export market for US beef," the letter read.

"Many cuts like short ribs and chuck rolls receive a significant premium in South Korea over prices in the US market. Korus established strong science-based trade measures and a schedule for the elimination of South Korea’s 40 per cent tariff on US beef-terms that have allowed the US beef industry to be very competitive in South Korea."

The letter added that implementing Korus before Australia implemented a free trade agreement with Korea gave US beef a significant tariff advantage and that the United States is now the leading source of beef imports in Korea.

The industry representatives emphasized that continuing with the current agreement deal will help the country’s economy as well.

"Last year, we sold $6.3 billion of US beef to foreign consumers, with exports to South Korea accounting for 17 per cent of the total," they said. "With your help and leadership, we look forward to building on our success in export markets, including South Korea, and continuing to stimulate economic growth in rural America."

A source in Washington, DC, said the letter presented a strong stance by the US agricultural industry, which worries about the US government’s efforts on behalf of the manufacturing sector.

"A voice coming from Americans, not from Korea, will have a big impact on the Trump administration," the source added.

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