The month of May is World Trade Month and National Beef Month. This combination spurred three letters from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to urge President Obama, members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to expedite the three pending trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. NCBA President Bill Donald said the United States cannot afford to wait any longer to implement the trade pacts.
"Each day that goes by without implementing these agreements is another day we risk losing American jobs by losing market share to other countries. With 96% of the world's consumers living outside of the United States, future growth of the U.S. economy depends upon our ability to produce and sell products competitively in the global marketplace," said Donald. "Economic globalization is not simply a matter of ideological or political preference; it is a fundamental reality that will determine whether America remains an economic superpower or a secondary economic force."
According to Donald, all cuts of U.S. beef exported to Korea are hit with a 40% tariff, resulting in more than $200 million in tariffs in 2010. The Korea, U.S. trade agreement would phase out South Korea's 40% tariff on beef imports, with $15 million in tariff benefits for beef in the first year of the agreement alone and about $325 million in tariff reductions annually once fully implemented. Donald said Colombia places up to an 80% tariff on U.S. beef imports, making it one of the highest tariffs U.S. beef faces anywhere in the world. Once the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement is implemented, this agreement immediately provides duty-free access for high quality U.S. beef and reduces tariffs on all other beef and beef products over 15 years. Similarly, he said the Panama Free Trade Agreement would eliminate the 30% tariff on prime and choice cuts and duties on all other cuts would be phased out over 15 years.
"If Congress approves these agreements, the United States will ultimately have free trade for U.S. beef with approximately two-thirds of the population in the Western Hemisphere," said Donald. "I support President Obama's effort to double U.S. exports and create jobs in rural America. Without question, exports create jobs. NCBA and supporters of free trade have worked hard in support of these agreements and we are ready to move them across the finish line."