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NPPC Applauds Signing Of CAFTA, Looks Forward To Congressional Passage

by 5m Editor
31 May 2004, at 12:00am

WASHINGTON, D.C. - National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Keith Berry today applauded President Bush and his trade negotiators, as well as their counterparts in Central America, for signing the United States-Central America Free Trade Agreement.

NPPC Applauds Signing Of CAFTA, Looks Forward To Congressional Passage - WASHINGTON, D.C. - National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Keith Berry today applauded President Bush and his trade negotiators, as well as their counterparts in Central America, for signing the United States-Central America Free Trade Agreement.
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The Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) negotiations had been concluded several months ago between the United States and the nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. While acknowledging that the timing for a congressional vote on this agreement is not yet known, Berry emphasized that NPPC looks forward to working toward congressional approval of the CAFTA as soon as possible.

"Pork was an extremely contentious issue in these negotiations, but U.S. pork producers ended up with a great result, in large part because the U.S. negotiating team insisted on including all agricultural products in this agreement," said Berry, a pork producer from Greencastle, Indiana. "Our future is heavily dependent on expanding access for U.S. pork in foreign markets," he said. "Since 1995, when the Uruguay Round Agreement went into effect, U.S. pork exports to the world have increased over 150 percent. While we remain focused on the World Trade Organization (WTO) agriculture negotiations as providing the greatest future potential payoff to our producers, we are very excited about the agreement with the Central American nations because it will provide significant new opportunity for our producers."

Under the terms of the deal there will be both immediate and phased-in concessions on pork and pork products. A significant tariff rate quota (TRQ) will be established through which the U.S. can immediately ship pork tariff free within the quota. The size of the quota will increase each year and the out-of-quota tariff will decrease over time. The quota and the tariffs will be eliminated after the 15-year phase-in period.

With respect to non-tariff issues, Berry praised the U.S. negotiators for obtaining a commitment from all five countries to abolish all non-tariff measures that have severely restricted U.S. exports to the region in recent years. He noted that some further work needs to be done to ensure that all of these countries recognize the U.S. meat inspection system and implement transparent import procedures. "The elimination of tariffs is very important but in order to have meaningful, commercial access we need to be sure that all impediments to exporting pork - including sanitary, inspection, and licensing issues - are resolved," Berry said. "We appreciate the substantial progress that has been made to date on these non-tariff issues. It is essential that these issues are resolved in a timely manner so that U.S. pork producers can be strong supporters of the CAFTA in the U.S. Congress."

Source: National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) - 31th May 2004

5m Editor