As trade negotiators meet again this week, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association urges the renewal of Trade Promotion Authority, legislation that gives the President authority to negotiate trade agreements with an assurance that Congress will give the final agreement only an up or down vote.
Over 12 million American jobs depend on exports, and with the renewal of TPA, valuable free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership can move forward. NCBA President and Texas cattle producer, Bob McCan said under TPP, the U.S. beef industry could see the elimination of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers that hinder the industry’s ability to meet free market demand for beef in the Pacific Rim.
“The governments of many of our competitors are actively engaged in negotiating trade agreements with growing consumer markets around the world,” said McCan. “Unless the United States takes a similar aggressive approach to secure free trade agreements, we will lose market share; not due to the quality of our products, but because our products will be more expensive due to import tariffs. While the final terms of the agreement are still far from conclusion, TPP could give the United States a stronger foothold in the growing Asian and Pacific Rim markets.”
The multi-lateral TPP agreement is currently being negotiated by the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Canada and Mexico. NCBA encourages the U.S. to push for full and free market access to all TPP member countries, eliminating high tariff rates and quotas that currently limit the United States’ ability to compete for consumers.
McCan warned, however, that just as important as trade agreements are to the domestic economy, on-going west coast port labor negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association have caused a significant disruption to the transport of goods and are threatening the success and continuity of trade with international markets.
“In the face of free trade agreements that provide jobs and foster economic growth, we cannot have our products sitting on ships at dock or in trucks waiting to be loaded,” said McCan. “Supply chains across several industries have been adversely impacted due to events far beyond our control and with perishable items like beef, this is especially concerning. These labor disputes must be settled as soon as possible to resolve the current congestion issues interrupting the flow of commerce.”