Pork Producers Want USTR That Prioritises Access to International Markets

US - Last week (14 March), the US Senate Finance Committee held a hearing regarding the nomination of Robert Lighthizer to head the Office of United States Trade Representative.
calendar icon 20 March 2017
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According to the Committee, Mr Lighthizer previously worked for foreign governments, thereby making him ineligible to be appointed as the United States Trade Representative, pursuant to the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

However, according to the Committee, "Mr Lighthizer has an understanding about the impact of unfair trade on America’s manufacturers and workers that could be a valuable asset for our country.

"The country needs a USTR that will stand up for our rights on behalf of American workers and businesses at the WTO, and that will partner with Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Commerce, and the full range of agencies responsible for trade enforcement to crack down on trade cheats hurting workers and businesses here at home."

In response to the Finance Committee's hearing, Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, released a statement saying, "In order for America’s ranching families to remain competitive, we need a government that prioritises market access and tears down barriers to trade in leading global markets.

"The role of the US Trade Representative has become critically more important in recent years, especially as our competitors seek to secure economic advantages through trade agreements with our top export markets, such as Japan.

"Likewise, we need a trade representative who understands the importance of abiding by rules-based trade, who is willing to rigorously enforce agreements with our trading partners, and who will work with the US beef industry to address our many unresolved barriers to trade.

"We look forward to learning more about Mr Lighthizer’s views on these important issues during the confirmation process."

National Pork Producers Council Ken Maschoff also issued a statement regarding the hearing. Mr Mascoff said, "NPPC commends Robert Lighthizer, nominee for ambassador of the Office of the US Trade Representative, for telling the Senate Finance Committee that he places high importance on agricultural trade, and we look forward to working with him and the rest of the president’s trade team to preserve and expand foreign market access for US pork.

"Access to international markets is the No. 1 priority of US pork producers. We are a vibrant industry, with five new packing plants coming on stream in the next couple of years, and the United States has been the top global exporter of pork, on average, the past 10 years. All of this is because of trade deals.

"It wasn’t until 1995 – after the Uruguay Round and the NAFTA – that our industry became a net exporter, and 20 US free trade agreements later, we are now an export juggernaut. The flip side of that, however, is we now are very dependent on export markets, with 25 per cent of our production being exported. Given global income growth and demographics, we know the future health of our industry is tied inextricably to preserving and expanding international market access.

"At our recent annual meeting, producer after producer expressed concern about the financial bloodbath they would experience if we have a disruption in pork exports to Mexico. Further, producers expressed concern about losing market share in the Asia-Pacific region as the EU and other nations close trade agreements with Japan and other countries in the region.

"His statement on agricultural trade gives us confidence that as USTR ambassador, Bob Lighthizer will work to create export opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers."

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