The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and 39 state pork associations have sent a letter (Tuesday) calling for Congress to approve three pending free trade agreements (FTAs).
The groups asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to vote on the trade pacts with Columbia, Panama and South Korea “as soon as possible after receiving (from the White House) the enabling legislation.”
“Columbia, Panama and South Korea are crucial markets for U.S. agricultural products, and the industry stands to gain sales with implementation of the FTAs,” says NPPC President Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, WI. “For the U.S. pork industry, the trade agreements with those countries will add significantly to producers’ bottom line and create thousands of pork industry jobs.”
Full implementation of the three FTAs combined will generate more than $770 million in additional pork exports annually, causing live hog prices to climb by $11.35 and creating more than 10,200 direct pork industry jobs, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.
Without passage of the three FTAs, “these potential gains will become losses as we relinquish our export sales to countries that have implemented their own FTAs with Columbia, Panama and Korea,” the joint letter said.
The United States has already suffered lost sales in Columbia due to other FTAs. The U.S. share of the Columbian agricultural market has fallen to 27% in 2009, down from 44% in 2007. Chile’s 2004 FTA with South Korea has increased its market share because of its tariff advantage over other major pork exporting countries. Chile’s import tariffs on pork destined for South Korea drop to zero by 2014.