While three key U.S. free trade agreements are waiting on President Obama to move them to Capitol Hill, the United States' competitors in the red meat arena are moving ahead with their own FTAs gaining competitive advantages in important international markets. Philip Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, says Congress and the Administration have the opportunity to act on these FTAs this fall to keep the U.S. competitive with the European Union, Canada and other aggressive competitors.
U.S. red meat exports are on a record pace through the first six months of 2011 and Seng says a critical factor in the United States' ability to maintain the current pace of exports is ensuring a level playing field internationally. If our international competitors are able to gain significant market access and tariff advantages, that will put U.S. products in a very tough position. At stake not only are advantageous tariff rates but the jobs that go with those exports.
It's projected the U.S.-South Korea FTA would boost U.S. beef exports to more than $1 billion per year over the 15-year implementation period. For pork, exports would more than double by 2016 to more than $400 million. The benefits of the Colombia and Panama FTAs would add an estimated $25 million in pork exports by 2016 and about $35 million in beef exports.
This Thursday, President Obama is expected to address the nation to announce a new plan to rejuvenate the U.S. economy by creating an environment conducive to job growth. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says by taking immediate action on the pending trade deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea the President will help generate wealth and create jobs. NCBA President Bill Donald calls on the president to send the three pending FTAs to Congress immediately.
According to Donald, if the president is serious about creating jobs, they expect the three trade agreements to be sent to Congress this week.
"There is absolutely no conceivable reason to delay these job-generating trade pacts any longer," Donald said. "Since President Obama took office, these trade agreements have been collecting dust on his desk. A lot of finger pointing is going on while our competitor's capitalize on our inability to act on these trade deals."
Donald says the three pending agreements would generate nearly $2.5 billion in additional exports and around 20,000 jobs. The NCBA president says those in rural America who depend on free and open trade are tired of bureaucratic speak and political games. It is time for the president to be a leader and send these trade agreements to Congress.