Following is a statement from U.S. Wheat Associates President Alan Tracy and National Association of Wheat Growers Chief Executive Officer Dana Peterson:
“The U.S. wheat industry welcomes the successful conclusion of negotiation on the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement (FTA). We applaud the Obama Administration for working hard to address the difficult challenges in this deal, and we look forward to its swift submission to and ratification by Congress.
“South Korea is a top ten market for U.S. wheat producers, importing more than 40 million bushels each of the last five years. Once implemented, the FTA will help protect this important market by eliminating the small duty U.S. wheat faces there now.
“Without bilateral and regional agreements such as the U.S.-Korea FTA, U.S. wheat producers face a competitive disadvantage in other key countries, particularly since other wheat exporters are moving ahead at a brisk pace to sign their own bilateral agreements in several key U.S. markets. For example, U.S. Wheat Associates estimates that failure to ratify the U.S.-Colombia FTA could lead to an annual loss of more than $100 million for the U.S. wheat industry at current export prices. This is in part because a ratified FTA between Canada and Colombia will allow Canadian wheat to enter Colombia duty free in early 2011. Influential Colombian millers confirm that if they must pay duties on U.S. wheat, but not on Canadian wheat, U.S. market share will likely decline.
“The results of a comprehensive new study* by U.S. Wheat Associates and 11 other commodity groups show that active trade agreements directly increase U.S. agricultural exports, farm gate prices and job growth. Yet the United States risks falling behind as its export competitors aggressively press ahead.
“We are pleased with the effort on the U.S.-Korea FTA, and we hope its forward movement signals the United States is willing to work as hard, with the same urgency, to finalize pending Colombia and Panama FTAs, negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership and seek a beneficial conclusion to World Trade Organization Doha Round negotiations.”
Melissa Kessler, NAWG, mkessler (at) wheatworld.org, 202-547-7800
Steve Mercer, U.S. Wheat, smercer (at) uswheat.org, 703-650-0251
*To obtain a copy of the entire study, please contact U.S. Wheat Associates at info (at) uswheat.org.