Monday, R-CALF USA provided testimony to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in support of the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement. Oman is a net importer of beef, but so far its market has been largely untapped by U.S. cattle producers.
"Under the Oman FTA, Oman's tariffs on all imports of beef products from the U.S. go to zero immediately. Oman, which exports very little beef to the world, will also receive duty-free and quota-free access to the U.S. after a quota on imports from Oman phases out in 10 years," says Doug Zalesky, chair of R-CALF USA's International Trade Committee. "The net impact on cattle and beef trade under this FTA should be to allow U.S. producers to access more of the Omani beef market and build an important strategic presence in the Middle Eastern region."
While R-CALF USA supports the Oman FTA, it is important to note this agreement does not incorporate the rules of origin for cattle and beef that R-CALF USA has consistently sought in preferential trade agreements.
"R-CALF believes that preferential trade agreements should include a 'born, raised and slaughtered' rule of origin for cattle and beef to ensure that the benefits of the agreement accrue to product of the country, or countries, participating in the agreement," Zalesky notes. "While the failure to include a BRS clause in the Oman FTA is not especially significant, failure to do so in other ongoing trade negotiations could be critical.
"In other agreements, the rules of origin must be strengthened so that third countries are not allowed to benefit from access to the U.S. market without providing reciprocal access to U.S. products," he continues.
"Until distortions in international cattle and beef markets are addressed comprehensively at a global level, the U.S. should pursue FTAs strategically to move toward these goals," Zalesky emphasizes. "Because the Oman FTA represents an important step in the right direction for U.S. cattle and beef producers, R-CALF USA urges Congress to support this agreement."