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Ag Groups Urge Congress To Pass Peru Trade Pact

by 5m Editor
27 October 2007, at 12:18pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. - With a tentative House vote set for the week of Nov. 5, the Agriculture Coalition for Latin American Trade, which includes the National Pork Producers Council and 49 other food and agricultural organizations, today urged Congress to approve the trade agreement between the United States and Peru.

In a letter (below) sent to every lawmaker, the coalition asked Congress to “provide U.S. food and agriculture the same trade benefits that it already has extended to farmers and ranchers in Peru” under the Andean Trade Preferences Act. That trade law gives most products from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru duty-free access into the United States.

The House is expected to take up the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement after voting on legislation to expand the 1974 Trade Act’s Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which helps U.S. workers who are hurt or displaced because of increased imports.

The Peru agreement is expected to be the first of four pending free trade pacts to see congressional action. Free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea also are pending in Congress.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Member of Congress:

The 50 undersigned organizations, representing U.S. farmers, ranchers, meat processors, food producers and exporters, urge you to approve the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA). The agreement is expected to move to the House and Senate floors in the coming weeks.

The PTPA provides immediate duty-free access to Peru’s market for two-thirds of our farm and food products, including high quality beef, wheat, soybeans, whey, cotton, corn oil, corn gluten feed and meal, apples, pears, peaches, cherries, almonds, frozen french fries, cookies, distilled spirits and breakfast cereals. PTPA opens the market for the remainder of U.S. agricultural products by the end of a transition period.

The U.S. market is already open to most products from Peru on a duty-free basis under the Andean Trade Preferences Act, which Congress overwhelmingly approved. The PTPA ensures our ability to compete fairly in the Peruvian market with the country’s other trading partners, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the European Union and Mexico. Peru already has signed free trade agreements or is in the process of negotiating free trade agreements with these countries.

The PTPA offers our exporters greater opportunities in a dynamic and growing market. It will ensure that the Peruvian economy – and Peru’s demand for our high quality food products – continues to expand. Additionally, it solidifies our friendly ties with an important regional ally, establishing a more stable footing for our ongoing trade relations.

U.S. agricultural exports to Peru include wheat, feed grains, cotton, oilseeds and products, rice, and dairy products. Consumer-oriented food exports have been growing, with the U.S. representing Peru’s fourth largest supplier. The United States will see increased prospects for a wide range of other high value U.S. food products, including cheese and whey, snack foods, pet foods, fresh and processed fruits and juices and wine.

U.S. meat exports have enjoyed only modest success in the Peruvian market. This is expected to change under the PTPA not only because of the rapid removal of tariffs on most meat, livestock and poultry products but also because of the important commitments Peru has made on sanitary and phyto-sanitary barriers. As part of the PTPA, Peru agreed to recognize the U.S. meat inspection system as “equivalent” to its own and to permit imports from plants approved by the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service.

The exports generated by this trade agreement will have a positive affect on the bottom line of U.S. farmers and ranchers. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement will increase U.S. farm exports by $705 million. Additionally, USDA estimates that for every million dollars of agricultural exports, 13.4 jobs are created. Therefore, when fully implemented, the PTPA will provide more than 9,000 new jobs from increased agricultural exports.

This agreement establishes a level playing field that many members of Congress have argued should be a fundamental goal of our trade agreements. We urge Congress to provide U.S. food and agriculture the same trade benefits that it already has extended to farmers and ranchers in Peru. The PTPA provides such reciprocal trade benefits and will generate U.S. exports, create U.S. jobs and enhance the economic well-being of U.S. farming communities.

Please support the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement!

Sincerely,

American Cotton Shippers' Association
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Feed Industry Association
American Frozen Food Institute
American Meat Institute
American Seed Trade Association
American Soybean Association
Blue Diamond Growers
California Table Grape Commission
Commodity Markets Council
Corn Refiners Association
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
Grocery Manufacturers/Food Products Association
International Dairy Foods Association
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Barley Growers Association
National Black Farmers Association
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
National Chicken Council
National Confectioners Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Cotton Council
National Cottonseed Products Association
National Grain and Feed Association
National Grange
National Milk Producers Federation
National Oilseed Possessors Association
National Pork Producers Council
National Potato Council
National Renderers Association
National Sorghum Producers
National Sunflower Association
National Turkey Federation
North American Equipment Dealers Association
North American Export Grain Association
North American Millers’ Association
Northwest Horticultural Council
Pet Food Institute
Produce Marketing Association
Sweetener Users Association
The Fertilizer Institute
U.S. Apple Association
U.S. Canola Association
U.S. Dairy Export Council
U.S. Wheat Associates
U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association
U.S.A. Dry Peas and Lentil Council
U.S.A. Poultry & Egg Export Council
U.S.A. Rice Federation
Western Growers Association

5m Editor