Wednesday the Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing with U. S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk concerning passage of the pending U.S. trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Representatives of the U.S. food and agriculture industry have reiterated their support for swift passage of the agreements. American Soybean Association First Vice President Steve Wellman, a soybean producer from Syracuse, Neb., says these three trade agreements combined represent almost $3 billion of additional U.S. agriculture exports to these trading partners.
The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, according to Wellman, offers immediate duty-free access to U.S. soybeans for crushing and to U.S. soybean meal. And for the first time, producers of U.S. food-grade soybeans would have access to the South Korean market outside of the import monopoly created by the Korean State Trading Enterprise. Tariffs on refined soybean oil would be eliminated over five years, and tariffs on crude soybean oil would be eliminated over 10 years.
As for the other two agreements, Wellman says Colombia will immediately eliminate tariffs on soybeans and soy meal and flour and provide immediate duty-free access for crude soybean oil and phase-out the out-of-quota tariff for crude soybean oil over 10 years. Wellman says the Panama FTA would permanently lock-in duty-free treatment of U.S. exports of soybeans, soybean meal, and crude soybean oil.