Beef Exports Need More Action on FTAs

NCBA economist says U.S. is hurting itself by not ratifying pending deals.

Published on: Jul 29, 2010

President Obama has announced progress on his pledge to double U.S. exports over the next five years including the development of a new presidential advisory council on exports. But the National Cattlemen's Beef Association wants to see results instead of more talk. Right now, China is still the only major market that is completely closed to U.S. beef, while they have made deals with Canada and New Zealand.

"We are hurting ourselves quite frankly by the fact that we can't ratify free trade agreements with places like Panama and Columbia and especially South Korea that we already have done," said NCBA's Chief Economist Gregg Doud. "We're also frustrated that the Canadians are working really hard, and others as well, into that Chinese market, which has all kinds of potential."

Doud says the U.S. is getting out-hustled by countries like Canada and New Zealand when it comes to Free Trade Agreements. China represents one of the potential growth markets for the U.S. beef industry worth in excess of $200 million. Doud says the blame for the lack of movement isn't just at the doorstep of USDA or the U.S. Trade Representative.

"We had Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro that for years had blocked our ability to work out something on cooked poultry with China through an appropriations process that was completely inappropriate," Doud said. "China filed a WTO case against us and won and it hamstrung us; it stalled us for years and really ticked the Chinese off. And that's one of the key reasons why we're way behind the eight ball here in getting back into that market."

Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., is Chairwoman of the Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. NCBA believes that as long as the U.S. continues to stand on the sidelines it continues to lose ground to its competitors.