The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Wednesday joined U.S Trade Ambassador Michael Froman in urging Congress to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. NCBA Vice President Kevin Kester told reporters on a morning conference call that passage of the trade deal would give more value to beef cuts that aren’t as desired by U.S. consumers as they are by consumers overseas.
“It’s hugely important to develop markets to where we can get the highest value on a per pound basis and help me as a rancher stay in business and my kids to stay in business into the future,” said Kester, a cattleman from California. “It’s a big deal.”
On the same conference call, Ambassador Froman said that the U.S. is already an open economy with an average tariff on imported items at 1.4 percent. Eighty percent of what the U.S. imports from countries that are part of the TPP, according to Froman, already comes in duty free. Froman adds that the U.S. does not use regulations as “a disguised barrier to trade.”
But where U.S. exports are concerned, “we face tariffs of up to 50 percent on beef, 40 percent on poultry, and we face countries that do use regulations as a barrier to trade,” said Froman, “and TPP will eliminate or greatly reduce those tariffs and insure that as tariffs come down they don’t replace them with non-tariff barriers.”
Froman says the best course is for Congress to pass TPP this year. While the Obama Administration favors passage, most of the candidates running for the White House do not.
AUDIO: Kevin Kester and Michael Froman (28 min. MP3)
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