Long-pending trade agreements with Korea, Panama and Columbia are finally working their way to Congress. Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee is holding hearings on the agreements.
Rep. Timothy V. Johnson, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, said he is hopeful of meaningful progress in advancing these overdue agreements.
"I am thrilled that these trade agreements are finally moving to Congress for vote. These three trade agreements are absolutely essential in securing our economic prosperity for future generations. If they are not passed, our agriculture and manufacturing exports will be subject to tariffs that put us at a competitive disadvantage with countries in the European Union and South America. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure passage of these trade agreements."
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, there are approximately 30,000 small and mid-sized companies that export to South Korea, Colombia, and Panama--and that's only one-third of US exports to those countries. Inaction on these trade agreements could cost up to 380,000 jobs and $40 billion in export sales.
For agriculture alone, the pending FTAs are worth more than $2.5 billion each year in previously untapped access for our farmers and ranchers. This means that in the four years these agreements have been stalled, U.S. producers have lost out on nearly $10 billion.
"Illinois is the nation's second-largest producer of corn and the second-largest exporter of feed grains and products," Rep. Johnson said. "These agreements will grant immediate duty-free access for two-thirds of U.S. ag exports to Korea and Panama, and half of those going to Columbia, with phased-out tariffs and import quotas on other products down the line. This translates into billions in new market access and will only mean good things for the U.S., Illinois and the 15th District."