President Obama is forwarding trade agreements involving three key nations to Congress for approval, a move Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says is very good news for American farming and manufacturing. Grassley, a Republican, says the White House sent down the agreements on Monday afternoon.
“These three trade agreements will lower or eliminate tariffs on almost all U.S. exports to Columbia, Panama and South Korea,” Grassley says. “They could increase U.S. exports by $13-billion a year, creating tens of thousands of new jobs.” He says the free trade agreements have been held up for several years, dating back to the most recent Bush administration.
“It’s been a big mistake to let these agreements languish,” Grassley says. “That’s well-understood in Iowa which has long been an exporting state in manufacturing, as well as agriculture and insurance and financial services.”
South Korea is the third-largest corn market and has the potential to be an important market for ethanol by-products. Colombia is importing corn from other countries because of the current import duty, while Panama is one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America. Grassley says the free trade proceedings shouldn’t end with these three nations.
“Now that we’ve got these agreements up from Columbia, Panama and South Korea, we shouldn’t stop there,” Grassley says. “Trade agreements need to be a priority. The rest of the world is moving forward without us.”
Kevin Ross, a farmer from Minden and president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, released a statement saying: “The pending free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama represent important export market opportunities and with our current economy, this is crucial to our competitive edge.”
The U.S. is the world’s largest corn producer and exporter. In Iowa, exports are the third-largest market for corn, following livestock and ethanol.