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Coalition Urges Passage of FTAs to Spur Job Growth

by 5m Editor
2 March 2010, at 10:57am

US - Pointing out that exports generate 8,000 US jobs for every $1 billion of agricultural goods exported, an ad hoc coalition of food, feed and agricultural entities yesterday urged Congress to promptly pass several pending free trade agreements.

Trade deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea are awaiting congressional approval. Under each pact, many US food and agricultural products would become eligible for duty-free treatment once the agreement is implemented and nearly all would receive duty-free treatment over specified phase-in periods.

In a letter signed by 57 companies and organisations, the coalition – led by the National Pork Producers Council – asked lawmakers to “heed the President’s call to aggressively expand market access opportunities, as our competitors are doing.“

Congress must act on the pending agreements soon, said the coalition, because other countries are moving forward on a host of trade deals. South Korea, for example, has concluded, is negotiating or is planning to enter talks on trade agreements with 11 countries, the European Union and blocs representing southeast Asian and South American nations.

In addition to adding to the bottom line of producers – US pork producers, for example, would see hog prices rise by $11 a head under the South Korea agreement – the trade pacts would generate thousands of US jobs.

According to USDA figures, 2008’s $115.4 billion of US agricultural exports supported 920,000 full-time civilian jobs, including 608,000 non-farm jobs. Those economic benefits, the coalition pointed out, flow not only to rural communities but also to people working in transportation, processing and at ports.

In its letter, the coalition said it “strongly supports“ President Obama’s pledge, made in his 27 January State of the Union address, to double US exports within five years as a way to create millions of new jobs.

The coalition also expressed concern about legislation (H.R. 3012 and S. 2821) that would require the administration to demand the re-negotiation of all current or pending trade agreements.