The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) is pleased with the Congressional passage of the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. Combined, the trade agreements are expected to create 20,000 jobs while increasing exports by $2.3 billion.
“We are thrilled the Free Trade Agreements have finally received clearance after several years of delay,” said AFIA president and CEO Joel G. Newman. “In today’s economic downturn, America could not afford to sit on the sidelines anymore. Our farmers and ranchers are ready to level the playing field by creating American products on American soil while providing jobs to hardworking American citizens,” he continued.
Increasing export opportunities is a top priority for the U.S. feed industry. AFIA is a member in a coalition of food and agricultural organizations that supported passage of the FTAs while legislation stood stagnant for several years. The coalition witnessed the loss of market share America faced while other countries such as the European Union, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Canada implemented their own FTAs.
In a statement after passage, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated: “With record agricultural exports supporting more than a million jobs here at home, passage of these deals will contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs, and provide new income opportunities for our nation’s agricultural producers, small businesses and rural communities.”
AFIA is looking forward to seeing the immediate benefits the free trade agreements will bring to the U.S. economy. The agreement with Korea presents the largest opportunity, where the U.S. is seeking to improve its fourth place standing behind China, EU and Japan. The Panama and Colombia agreements will also be very beneficial, with duty-free access for 50 percent and 70 percent of exported products, respectively.