Level the playing field

Published 12:31 am Thursday, July 28, 2011

To the Editor:

Level the playing field.

As the White House and Congress sit on free-trade agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia and Panama, farmers continue to lose market share and the nation misses out on nearly $3 billion per year in new trade and jobs.

Exports are important to North Carolina’s agricultural and statewide economy. Measured as exports divided by farm cash receipts, the state’s reliance on agricultural exports was 32 percent in 2008.

These FTAs are the best current opportunities for the USA to help level the playing field of international trade. The U.S./Korea trade agreement, in particular, would increase export opportunities for a range of North Carolina agricultural products like poultry, pork, soybeans and cotton.

American products going into those FTA countries face exorbitant tariffs. Both Colombia and Panama receive duty-free access to the U.S. market, while our products face tariffs of up to 160 percent to sell in their markets. In Korea, tariffs of up to 500 percent are placed on U.S. goods. Passing these trade agreements would immediately eliminate most of these tariffs.

Further, while we sit idly by, competitors like Australia, Chile, Canada and the EU are moving in and taking these markets. In Colombia alone, U.S. exports dropped almost 50 percent in the last several years while other countries prospered from our stalling on a trade agreement. That equates to North Carolina jobs lost or not created simply because of inaction by our government.

It’s time for America to stop taking the back seat in global trade. I urge the administration and Congress to work together and enact the Korea, Colombia and Panama agreements today.

MAC DANIELS, President
Beaufort County Farm Bureau
Board of Directors: Mac Daniels, Herman Grissom Jr., Mike Godley, Andrew Arnold, Larry Boyd, Jimmy Boyd, Danny Clayton, Steve Griffin, Shawn Harding, James L. Hodges Jr., Ray Pippin, Ruffin Prince, Randy Smith, William Tankard, Keith Waters, Bernie Van Essendelft.