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US pork and livestock groups continue to urge action on FTAs

As could be seen during the World Pork Expo, earlier this year, the US National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) as well as other agricultural and food organisations and companies continue to ask attention for pending Free Trade Agreements with several countries, which still have to be approved.

In an open letter to president Obama and members of congress the organisations released urged immediate action on the free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

The trade deals, each of which was signed more than four years ago, continue to languish. The coalition has been asking that they be considered before congress begins its August recess, but it now appears that the FTAs won’t be taken up until lawmakers return in September.

The groups pointed out that US industries have been losing market share in Colombia and South Korea ever since those countries implemented trade agreements with other nations.

Trade volume
In the first two weeks after the FTA between the European Union and South Korea became effective (July 1) trade volume between the two rose 17.4%. Exports from Korea to the EU rose 19%, and exports from the EU to Korea rose 16%, according to South Korean government figures.

Likewise, the US share of Colombia’s agricultural imports has fallen since 2008 because of the trade agreements Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay negotiated with Colombia. The US share of Colombia’s corn, wheat and soybeans markets, for example, has fallen to 28% from 78% over the past three years. US agricultural products likely will take another hit August 15 when Colombia’s FTA with Canada takes effect.

Difficult
"It’s difficult to watch years of market development efforts evaporate in a matter of months because, even as low-cost producers, we are not able to compete on the basis of price," said the coalition in its letter, which was signed by more than 120 agricultural and food groups and companies. "If our competitors pay lower tariffs, we will become a residual supplier – if we supply anything at all."

The groups also pointed out that further delay in approving the FTAs, particularly the deal with South Korea, could allow, for example, opposition to the agreements in the other countries to coalesce.

"The seemingly endless delays on our side do not serve our economic or foreign policy interests, and they run the risk of causing long-term damage to US food and farm exports," said the coalition letter.

To read the coalition letter, click here.

Related websites:
National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)

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