The Senate, in a strong bipartisan showing, approved the Peruvian Trade Promotion Agreement Tuesday by a 77-18 vote. President George Bush voiced his approval at a press conference.
"This agreement will level the playing field for American goods and services, it will create new opportunities for investment and it will strengthen our friendship with a fellow democracy," Bush said.
The Peruvian FTA will immediately eliminate duties on 80% of U.S. goods exported to Peru, with a phase out of remaining duties. According the American Farm Bureau Federation, once this agreement is fully implemented, it will increase U.S. agricultural trade by more than $705 million per year.
AFBF, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, and the National Association of Wheat Growers all issued statements supporting passage of the legislation, but they also called on Congress to move forward on other pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Acting Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner echoed those sentiments.
"It is important for Congress to continue the process of eliminating restrictive tariffs on U.S. exports and allowing the strengths of American agriculture to shine through by moving forward with the Colombia, Panama and Korea trade agreements," Conner said.
Although most groups voiced approval of the Senate's action, not everyone is happy about it. R-Calf urged Senators not to vote for the trade agreement, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils expressed their dissatisfaction with Tuesday's vote.
"The vote on the Peru trade agreement is disappointing," said Karen Englehart, a rancher from Bison, S.D. and Co-chair of WORC’s Trade Team. "We wonder where our Senators’ loyalty lies – with the citizens who put them in office or with the corporate interests that use these trade agreements to further their bottom line."