Following yesterday's announcement that the Senate Finance Committee will hold a 'mock' markup of three pending free trade agreements, the National Pork Producers Council urged lawmakers in both houses to approve the deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea before Congress' August recess.
“It is imperative that the agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea be approved before Congress takes its month-long break,” said Doug Wolf, NPPC president and a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis. “U.S. pork producers need new and expanded market access to remain competitive in the global marketplace. And the way to get that is through free trade agreements.”
For the U.S. pork industry, the deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea would add more than $11 to the price producers receive for each hog and generate more than 10,000 jobs, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.
“We need to implement these FTAs now,” Wolf said, “because while these deals have languished for more than three years, our competitors have negotiated their own trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, and the United States has lost market share in those countries.”
In fact, the European Union’s trade agreement with South Korea goes into effect July 1, and Colombia and Panama are nearing completion on deals with Canada.
Iowa State’s Hayes has estimated that the U.S. pork industry would be out of all three markets in 10 years if the United States fails to implement the FTAs and Colombia, Panama and South Korea move forward on trade deals with other nations. The United States would lose thousands of jobs under such a scenario.
Exports are vital to the U.S. pork industry, which last year shipped nearly $4.8 billion of pork, an amount that added about $56 to the price producers received for each hog marketed.