US: Obama urges Congress to pass Korea Trade Deal ‘as soon as possible’

31-01-2011 | |

Pointing out that exports are critical to the continued viability of the U.S. pork industry, the National Pork Producers Council praised President Obama for urging Congress to approve “as soon as possible” the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, which will boost U.S. pork exports to the Asian nation significantly.

In Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, the president touted the agreement as one that will support “at least 70,000 American jobs.” He pointed out that the deal has “unprecedented” support from business and labor and from both political parties.
“U.S. pork producers are extremely pleased that the president has made passage of the U.S.-South Korea FTA a top priority,” said NPPC President Sam Carney, a producer from Adair, Iowa. “Our industry depends on exports – last year 20 percent of our production was exported – and free trade agreements are how we increase them. And more exports means more profits
and more jobs.
“Like the president, we urge congressional lawmakers to pass this trade deal as soon as possible,” Carney added.
The U.S.-South Korea FTA, which also must be approved by the South Korean National Assembly, would be one of the most lucrative for the U.S. pork industry, according to NPPC, which has championed the pact for more than three years now.
According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, by the end of the FTA’s 10-year phase-in period, total U.S. pork exports to South Korea will be almost 600,000 metric tons. That represents nearly twice the current U.S. export level to Japan – now the top value market for the U.S pork industry. The FTA will lift live hog prices by $10 per animal and will generate an additional $687 million in U.S. pork exports. South Korea alone will absorb 5 percent of total U.S. pork production, and the FTA will create more than 9,000 new direct jobs in the U.S. pork industry.
The U.S.-South Korea FTA is one of three trade deals that are pending approval by Congress. Agreements with Colombia and Panama also have been awaiting action for more than three years.
President Obama last week said he would “keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs” in pursing trade deals with Colombia and Panama.
NPPC is urging the administration to work with Congress to approve the Colombia and Panama FTAs, too.