National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Bill Donald said the long-awaited implementation of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea is nearing. Today, Oct. 21, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the three agreements and the renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance. Donald said the official signing is a step in the right direction.
“The swift passage of the trade agreements was a refreshing move of bipartisanship. We strongly urged the president to follow suit by signing these agreements. He did that and we commend him for understanding the importance of free and open trade to job creation and economic growth,” said Donald. “Cattlemen welcome the opportunity to respond to growing global demand for safe and nutritious beef raised by farm and ranch families throughout the United States.”
In his remarks, President Obama underscored that these trade agreements will significantly boost American exports and support tens of thousands of American jobs. In fact, according to the International Trade Commission, the three agreements translate into 250,000 jobs. To cattlemen like Donald, the trade agreements increase beef demand and profitability. CattleFax reports the average per head value of exports to live cattle to exceed $200.
“When I think of sustainability, I think of my children. By signing these agreements, we not only benefit in the short-term but we afford future generations the opportunity to remain in the family business providing food for this country and abroad. That’s sustainability,” said Donald. “These agreements spell opportunity for small businesses like mine. This has been a long time coming and NCBA and its affiliates have remained firm in our support for these agreements throughout the years.”
The pact with Korea would phase out over 15 years South Korea’s 40 percent 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. The same would happen with Colombia’s 80 percent tariff and Panama’s 30 percent tariff on imports of U.S. beef.