American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says approval of the bilateral free-trade agreements between the United States and Korea, Colombia and Panama, as well as approval of Trade Adjustment Assistance, is welcome news for farmers and ranchers. Stallman says swift implementation is critical, so we can restore a level playing field for U.S. farm exports to these three nations.
Stallman points out that over the past four years, Korea, Colombia and Panama have opened their doors to our competitors. Congress and the administration have now given us the opportunity to improve our competitive position in these markets. Stallman says the economic growth generated from the agreements will improve our economy and create jobs here at home.
The American Soybean Association is also celebrating Congressional passage of the three free trade agreements. ASA is now urging the Administration to ensure these FTAs enter into force by Jan. 1, 2010. The three new agreements represent nearly $3 billion of additional agriculture exports to these trading partners. ASA President Alan Kemper points out that increased exports of U.S. soy and soy fed meat and poultry will benefit soybean farmers and rural economies.
The Korea FTA offers immediate duty-free access to U.S. soybeans for crushing and to U.S. soybean meal. It also opens up South Korea’s food-grade soybean imports to the private sector. The Colombia FTA will immediately eliminate tariffs ranging from 5-20% on soybeans, soybean meal and soybean flour, and phasing-out the 24% tariffs for crude soybean oil and refined soybean oil over five years. And the Panama FTA will benefit soybean farmers by immediately removing the tariffs on U.S. soybeans, soybean meal, and crude vegetable oils.
National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer says the trade agreements provide great opportunities for America's farmers. Passage by Congress ensures our industry continues to lead the nation in economic growth and international competitiveness. The United States continues to be the largest producer and exporter of corn in the world, exporting 50.4 million metric tons last year.
Since the EU-Korea trade agreement went into effect July 1, European exports to Korea have increased 36% from a year earlier. U.S. farmers have already lost more than $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 U.S. workers and farmers at a disadvantage.
The U.S. Grains Council says the three FTAs will level the playing field in markets where U.S. producers have been laboring under an unfair competitive disadvantage. USGC Chairman Dr. Wendell Shauman says our farmer leaders have been working hard with Congressional members to demonstrate the benefits of U.S. agricultural trade. Their hard work has paid off.
Dr. Shauman and Thomas Dorr, USGC president and CEO, will travel to Colombia and Panama in the near future for meetings with private sector and governmental leaders aimed at regaining U.S. grain exports to the region.
Also, the National Sorghum Producers points out that some individuals are hailing passage of the agreements as being the largest jobs bill of the year. NSP Chairman Terry Swanson, says this is a big step for agriculture and our industry stands to benefit from this opportunity by creating new market access for U.S. sorghum producers.
President Obama now must certify the agreements then set an implementation date for the phase-out of trade barriers, taxes and tariffs on American products to begin, which is most likely to happen early next year.