ARLINGTON, Virginia — U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) strongly urge the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to pivot from re-negotiating existing free trade agreements (FTAs) to negotiating new deals, as repeatedly promised by President Trump as a candidate and since taking office.
The United States and Korea yesterday pledged to begin negotiations on aspects of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). While the wheat industry does not in principle object to modernizing trade agreements, such as the ongoing negotiations to update NAFTA, KORUS is the United States’ most recent trade agreement and is barely a quarter of the way through full implementation. It also passed with strong bipartisan support in Congress after being negotiated under two separate administrations.
“While we disagreed, the President made clear that he did not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We were promised a series of bilateral trade agreements in its place,” said NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. “USTR has limited resources — it is time to get past plowing the same fields and start opening ground in new markets. Right now, we are standing around watching the world pass us by on trade agreements.”
USW and NAWG recently weighed in against withdrawal from KORUS for fear of market disruptions and concern that the United States will lose leverage and incentives to get good trade deals in the future.
“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 USW President Vince Peterson. “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 agreements.”
The United States has not completed any new trade agreements and withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership since KORUS was signed in 2007. Over the same period, wheat export competitors have been significantly more active in signing new FTAs:
Argentina: Israel, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Egypt, Colombia.
Australia: Chile, Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Peru, China.
Canada: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Peru, Colombia, Jordan, Panama, Honduras, Korea, Ukraine, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam.
European Union: Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Korea, Moldova, Georgia, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, 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, Canada.
Russia: Belarus, Moldova, Tajikistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam
Ukraine: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Montenegro, European Union.