U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Ranking Republican Member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, today issued the following statement regarding the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement:
"While the United States and Korean negotiators reached a free trade agreement late last night is encouraging, several issues cause me great concern. It appears that the Korean Government continues to flaunt sound science and they will not agree to accept U.S. beef exports by a date certain despite overwhelming evidence that there is no health threat. My patience with the Korean government continues to wear thin and I certainly hope this will be resolved in short order.
"In addition, excluding rice from the agreement is extremely disappointing. While I appreciate the sensitive nature of the rice industry in Korea, free trade agreements need to open up all sectors to competition. The exclusion of rice does not bode well for a breakthrough in the World Trade Organization where the United States is seeking real market access and trade flows for all products.
"Free trade benefits our country, but agreements must be balanced and U.S. agriculture cannot be excluded from the benefits. U.S. agriculture should not be asked to sacrifice the safety net in the Doha Round if farmers and ranchers are excluded from the most profitable markets.
"It is too early to voice my support or opposition to this agreement, but I look forward to discussing these matters with Ambassador Schwab in the weeks and months to come."