Capital Press File
Wheat organizations are telling U.S. officials to stop renegotiating existing trade deals and start working on new ones in desired markets.
In a joint statement, the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates told the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to pivot the emphasis.
The wheat industry hopes for a focus in Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam and Japan. The goal is creating new market access at a time when other wheat export countries have new trade agreements.
“Our competitors will benefit from removal of tariffs and other trade barriers through trade agreements, while the U.S. will stand still or worse,” said Chandler Goule, CEO of NAWG.
The wheat organizations would like to see steps to begin negotiations of a new trade agreement as soon as possible, Goule said.
President Donald Trump promised farmers a series of bilateral trade agreements in place of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Goule said. Trump withdrew from the TPP, slated to be an agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries, in January.
“It is time to get past plowing the same fields and start opening ground in new markets,” Goule said in the press release.” “Right now, we are standing around watching the world pass us by on trade agreements.”
The United States and South Korea pledged this week to begin negotiations on aspects of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, or KORUS, the groups noted.
KORUS was signed in 2007. It is the most recent trade agreement for the U.S. and barely a quarter of the way through full implementation.
“I’m glad to see we’re not making any rash decisions about withdrawing from trade agreements, but we need to see more than that,” said Vince Peterson, president of U.S. Wheat, in the press release. “In the decade since KORUS was negotiated, we have no new trade agreements and zero additional market access for wheat farmers. The administration has committed to ‘do no harm’ for agriculture, but we think there is harm in not negotiating new trade agreements.”
According to the wheat organizations, over the last decade, wheat export competitors have been “significantly” more active in signing new free trade agreements:
• Argentina signed new agreements with Israel, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Egypt and Colombia.
• Australia signed new agreements with Chile, Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Peru and China.
• Canada signed new agreements with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Peru, Colombia, Jordan, Panama, Honduras, Korea, Ukraine, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.
• The European Union signed new agreements with Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, South Korea, Moldova, Georgia, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamiaca, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Cameroon, Ukraine, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Canada.
• Russia signed new agreements with Belarus, Moldova, Tajikistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
• Ukraine signed new agreements with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Azerbaiajn, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikstan,Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Montenegro and the European Union.