Yesterday, President Obama submitted the Korea, Colombia, and Panama Free Trade Agreements to Congress for their consideration. Congress now has 90 days to approve the agreements.
Together, these three Free Trade Agreements represent important opportunities for Illinois corn growers. As Illinois enjoys a unique position on the Mississippi, Illinois, and Ohio River system, our largest market for corn is export buyers. Introducing new export market opportunities means huge gains for Illinois farmers.
Also on the list of opportunities once the agreements are ratified are increased exports of all ag products, including meat, which will increase the domestic consumption of corn and increased job opportunities and revenue generation to help the American economy.
Corn farmers have been waiting on the passage of these agreements since they were negotiated by the Bush administration. While we’ve been waiting, U.S. farmers lost more than $1 billion in sales to Colombia in the two years since that country implemented a trade deal with Argentina and Brazil. And since the E.U.-Korea trade agreement went into effect on July 1, 2011, E.U. exports to Korea have increased by 36 percent from a year earlier.
Illinois corn farmers urge Congress to move swiftly and approve all three agreements. However, in order to gain the Democratic votes necessary for adoption, Trade Adjustment Assistance must be negotiated. A better timeline under which TAA and the three FTAs might be considered will be available shortly.
“Ratifying of these FTAs will solidify our ongoing efforts to enhance each country’s ability to meet the needs of their growing middle class and supply high-quality protein products at low cost to their consumers,” said USGC Chairman, former IL Corn Marketing Board Chairman, and Kirkland, IL corn farmer Wendell Shauman.
Read more about the Korea FTA, Colombia FTA, and Panama FTA here.