Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which establishes concrete rules for international trade negotiations that will boost American exports and create new economic opportunities. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President and Chugwater, Wyo. cattleman Philip Ellis urged Congress to act swiftly to pass this important legislation.
“2014 was the largest year we’ve ever seen for U.S. beef exports, with over $7 billion in total sales,” said Ellis. “It is critical for our government to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade to ensure our beef exports remain competitive across the world. TPA assures the President and Congress will negotiate present and future trade agreements with common objectives and the understanding that any agreement will receive an up or down vote when presented to Congress.”
Past free trade agreements negotiated under TPA have showed tremendous success for U.S. beef exports. The Korea-U.S. FTA will eliminate a 40 percent tariff rate, Columbia-U.S. FTA will eliminate an 80 percent tariff, Panama-U.S. FTA will eliminate a 30 percent tariffs, and the Dominican Republic-Central America-U.S. FTA will eliminate a 15-40 percent tariff; all over the course of 15 years. Currently, the U.S. exports over $1 billion in beef and variety meats to these markets, with greater opportunity as those tariffs continue to drop.
“The U.S. market is one of the most open markets in the world,” said Ellis. “The only way for us to level the playing field is to negotiate increased market access and tariff elimination through free trade agreements. As a cow/calf producer, the increased trade through these agreements adds value to my cattle and my bottom line. This is not only important for our families, but profitability now, sets the tone for future generations of cattlemen and women. I urge Congress to quickly pass TPA to give our negotiators the credibility needed to move forward on pending free trade agreements.”