The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, which went into effect last week, signified an end to a 5-year push to solidify three free trade agreements that are expected to boost beef exports by $3 billion. The U.S.-Korea FTA took effect March 15, 2012, followed by the Colombia FTA on May 15, 2012.
"Texas ranchers have worked for nearly five years to see these agreements become reality," said Joe Parker Jr., Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association president. "Families, both at home and abroad, want Texas beef on their tables, and now we will be able to help meet that demand. This is a win for consumers overseas and producers here in the U.S."
Among other things, implementation of the Panama FTA results in the immediate repeal of the 30% tariff on prime and choice cuts of U.S. beef and begins to phase out all remaining tariffs.
According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, the three trade agreements will increase U.S. exports by at least $13 billion and add $10 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Additionally, exports of U.S. goods generate an estimated 8,000 jobs for every billion dollars shipped overseas.
Parker says that, while implementation of the three FTAs is a good thing for beef producers, there is still increasing potential for beef exports in other countries including China, Japan, Taiwan and the European Union.
"With the demand for beef rising, it is crucial that U.S. beef producers have a seat at the international table and that we aggressively pursue expanding market opportunities in other countries," said Parker.
"Our global competitors are already negotiating agreements with other markets. If we don't beat these countries to the punch, U.S. producers will be at a severe disadvantage," Parker continued. "With 95% of the world's population living outside of the U.S., we simply cannot afford to not have increased market access."