In testimony today before the House Ways and Means Committee, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the Obama administration will pursue trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama this year, but will not sacrifice concerns over labor and human rights.
In the meantime, eight former agriculture secretaries wrote to Congress on Tuesday urging fast passage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. In the letter, former secretaries Bob Bergland, John Block, Mike Espy, Dan Glickman, Mike Johanns, John Knebel, Ed Schafer and Clayton Yeutter said the agreement “will offer enormous new opportunities for our products in a market that is large and growing.
“Currently, only about $14 million in U.S. agricultural goods enter Korea duty-free. The KORUS FTA would immediately increase that to $3 billion, and as a result, U.S. exports to Korea will increase rapidly. Our exports will continue to benefit from staged tariff reductions and duty-free tariff rate quotas. The products that will benefit are too numerous to list, but they include most of our agricultural sector from virtually every state,” the letter stated.
Passage of the South Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreement is a priority issue for the American Farm Bureau Federation this year.