What is in this article?:
- Farm groups urge Obama to move quickly on trade
- $1.8 billion export potential?
- Obama administration officials are gearing up to ask Congress to pass a U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement. But farm groups and officials from previous administrations are asking the president to move forward with two other FTAs as well.
Obama administration officials are gearing up to ask Congress to pass a U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement. But farm groups and officials from previous administrations are asking the president to move forward with two other FTAs as well.
The latter are also asking why it’s taken so long to get the three agreements – all negotiated during the Bush administration – to this stage, a delay they say has allowed competing export countries to grab U.S. market share.
“These three trade agreements combined represent almost $3 billion dollars of additional agriculture exports to these trading partners,” said Steve Wellman, first vice president of the American Soybean Association. “These gains can only be realized by implementation of these three agreements.”
The agreements and the lack of progress in getting them ratified was a prime topic of conversation at Commodity Classic in Tampa. The Classic is the annual gathering of the nation’s major grain and oilseed commodity groups – the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers.
During the Ag Issues Forum held prior to the Commodity Classic. Ambassador Clayton Yeutter, the U.S. Trade Representative under President Reagan, called the lack of action on the proposed Columbia Free Trade Agreement “shameful.”
“What we’ve done with Columbia, which is one of our strongest allies in Latin America, is to leave them twisting slowly in the wind,” said Yeutter, who also served as agriculture secretary in the first Bush administration. “In the interim, some of our competitors have moved in and grabbed some of our share of that market.”
The Columbia, Panama and South Korean Free Trade Agreements were negotiated by former U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, but congressional leaders did not bring them up for a vote because of opposition from various groups. The U.S. auto, beef and rice industries had expressed reservations, in particular, about the South Korea FTA.
The latter was re-negotiated by Ambassador Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative for the Obama administration, and now is supported by the auto and beef industries. The USA Rice Federation continues to oppose the South Korea agreement.