The NGFA also commended President Obama for urging Congress during his Jan. 25 State of the Union address to pass the U.S.-South Korea free trade accord as soon as possible, and for citing its importance to supporting at least 70,000 U.S. jobs. In his address, the president also cited the pending trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, but indicated only that the administration will continue to pursue them.
In their joint letter this week to Congress, the NGFA and other agricultural groups said the real risks to the United States arise if the trade pacts are not implemented quickly.
“…[The U.S.-South Korea] agreement is overwhelmingly good for American agriculture and presents no risks,” the NGFA and other groups said. “The risks for U.S. agriculture – and they are extremely serious – arise if the (trade agreement) is not implemented,” in which case American agriculture could “relinquish” export sales to 50 other countries that have consummated, or are in the process of completing, free trade agreements with a nation that has the world’s 15th largest economy.
The NGFA, which long has supported the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and other U.S. agricultural groups noted that the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, once implemented, is projected to result in an at least an additional $1.8 billion in annual U.S. agricultural exports and further enhance the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture in South Korea’s $1 trillion economy and among its market of 49 million consumers.
However, they warned that South Korea has entered, or is in the process of completing, trade agreements with such major agricultural producing and exporting countries or trading blocs as the 27-nation European Union (E.U.), Mexico, Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), Peru and the ASEAN trade bloc of Southeast Asian nations. The groups noted that the E.U.-South Korea free trade accord is scheduled to take effect on July 1, which would put U.S. food and agricultural product exports “at a severe disadvantage” if Congress fails to act quickly.
In addition, the NGFA and the other agricultural organizations urged Congress to work with the Obama administration to resolve remaining issues so that free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama — awaiting action for more than three years — also can be ratified soon.