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FTAs Key To US Job And Economic Growth

09 March 2011

US - The American Meat Institute (AMI) has emphasised the importance of three pending free trade agreements (FTAs) to US jobs and economic growth in comments to the President’s Export Council, who are meeting to discuss topics related to the National Export Initiative (NEI).

NEI is a programme intended to coordinate federal efforts to double US exports by the end of 2014 and to support two million jobs.

“Although the importance of exports is increasing in all sectors of our industry — with exports accounting for 18.9 per cent of US pork production, 19.8 per cent of poultry production, and nine per cent of beef production in 2010 — US meat exporters face significant, unjustified and unscientific trade barriers in overseas markets and face competitors who are aggressively seeking these new markets,” wrote J. Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of the American Meat Institute.

“The negotiation and implementation of three pending FTAs — with Korea, Panama and Colombia — will immediately jump start the National Export Initiative and President Obama’s efforts to double US exports over five years,” Mr Boyle added. “When fully implemented, these trade agreements will produce tens of thousands of new jobs here at home and increase employment opportunities for America’s meat and poultry sector, while at the same time offering new diversified jobs for rural America.”

Mr Boyle highlighted in his comments the results of an impact study conducted in part by AMI which found that passage of the Korean, Colombian and Panamanian FTAs would represent an additional $2.3 billion in exports and the creation of 29,524 new jobs. Many of these jobs are in rural areas of the US where prospects of true economic development are seldom presented.

The data also reveal that passage of the agreements could increase US exports of beef by $1.4 billion, pork by $772 million and poultry by $102 million. The jobs resulting from this growth, both in the commodity groups and downstream, would include an estimated 18,000 jobs in the beef industry, 10,300 jobs in the pork industry and 1,200 jobs in the poultry industry.

Mr Boyle also noted in his comments that as these free trade agreements have stalled in Congress, our competitors have pounced at the opportunity in these markets.

“The unfortunate reality of trade is that while we sit on our hands, our competitors are seizing market shares that could be ours and will be difficult to win back later,” Boyle added.

“Hopefully, with the Council’s support, Congress will be able to push past the political barriers that have blocked passage of the FTAs with Korea, Panama and Colombia in the past and demonstrate that our leaders in Washington have enough faith in the determination and ingenuity of the American people to allow us the opportunity to compete fairly in these highly sought after global markets.”

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