Brownfield Network | Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Free trade agreements pushed by Grassley, pork producers
by Ken Anderson and Tom Steever
The National Pork Producers Council is pushing for passage of the Panama Free Trade Agreement, saying it will level the playing field for U.S. pork producers.
Iowa GOP Senator Charles Grassley, referring to pending FTAs with Panama and Colombia, agrees.
“We’ve let their products come in practically duty-free for the last three or four decades, so we get a chance to have a free trade agreement with Colombia to get our products into their country duty-free; we ought to take advantage of that,” Grassley told reporters Tuesday.
U.S. pork exports to Panama are restricted by a small quota and out-of-quota duties as high as 80 percent. Under the proposed agreement, U.S. pork variety meats would receive immediate duty-free treatment.
Market access for U.S. pork muscle meat would also be expanded through tariff rate quotas. In 15 years, when the agreement is fully implemented, U.S. pork would have unlimited duty-free access to the Panamanian market.
Senator Grassley uses the example of Peoria-made Caterpillars shipped to Colombia subject to a 35 percent tariff, while Caterpillars made in Europe enter Colombia duty free.
“Can you believe it? The very same labor unions that have been complaining about the outsource of manufacturing jobs over the last couple decades are the ones that are holding up the approval of these trade treaties that give us a level playing field to Panama and Colombia,” said Grassley.
The NPPC position on the FTAs was reiterated during testimony last week presented by the organization’s president-elect Sam Carney testifying before the Senate Finance Committee.