October 14, 2011


US FTAs represent additional US$3 billion worth of agri exports



US Congress passed free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Columbia and Panama, allowing nearly US$3 billion dollars worth of additional agriculture exports.


"We have waited for the day these agreements would be taken up for many years now. Based on our work within the wheat industry, we know these agreements and others like them will help us rebuild and expand markets, grow our economy here at home and remain the most reliable supplier of wheat in the world," said Wayne Hurst, National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) president and a wheat farmer from Burley, Idaho, US.


Randy Suess, US Wheat Associations (USW) chairman and a wheat farmer from Colfax, Washington, US "We strongly urge the President to sign these agreements quickly."


Increased exports of US soy and soy fed meat and poultry will benefit soy farmers and rural economies, said American Soybean Association (ASA) President Alan Kemper, who is a soy producer from Lafayette, Indiana, US.


"After nearly five years of delays and loss of US market share, soy farmers look forward to realizing the opportunities these FTAs provide for America's economic growth," he said.


The Korean FTA offers immediate duty free access to US soy for crushing and to US soy meal. It also opens up South Korea's food grade soy imports to the private sector, ASA said. The agreement will increase exports of the major grain, oilseed, fiber, fruit and vegetable, and livestock products by US$1.8 billion annually, according to economic forecasts by the American Farm Bureau Federation.


The Colombia FTA will create new opportunities for US soy farmers in the Colombian market by immediately eliminating tariffs ranging from five to 20% on soy, soy meal and soy flour, and phasing-out the 24% tariffs for crude soy oil and refined soy oil over five years.


"Most exports from Colombia already enter the US duty free, and this FTA will correct the current tariff imbalance in agricultural trade between our countries," Kemper said.


The Panama FTA will benefit soy farmers by immediately removing the tariffs on US soy, soy meal, and crude vegetable oils.


The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) said the three FTAs could create 250,000 American jobs and add an additional US$13 billion annually in exports. The US continues to be the largest producer and exporter of corn in the world, exporting 50.4 million tonnes last year.


"The three free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama provide great opportunities for America's farmers," NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, a corn farmer from Auburn, Illinois, US, said. "Passage by Congress ensures our industry continues to lead the nation in economic growth and international competitiveness. In addition, this action shows members of Congress understand the importance of the FTAs to rural America."


Since the EU, Korea trade agreement went into effect July 1. European exports to Korea have increased 36% from a year earlier. US farmers have already lost more than US$1 billion in sales to Colombia in the two years since that country implemented a trade deal with Argentina and Brazil. The Colombia Canada Free Trade Agreement that took effect August 15 has also put US workers and farmers at a disadvantage.


"Prior to Congress' passage of the FTAs, farmers watched as other nations received access to markets over the US," Niemeyer said. "We need to keep and create jobs in America. The FTAs will help us achieve that."

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