US House Passes Pending Trade Agreements
— NCBA Directs Focus on US Senate
WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives today, Oct. 12, 2012, voted in favor of the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. The long-awaited trade pacts will now move to the U.S. Senate for consideration. According to National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Bill Donald, the vote moves the agreements one step closer to implementation, which would occur subsequent to approval by the Senate and President Obama’s signature. Donald said cattlemen should consider this vote a victory.
“For several years, NCBA has been a leader in advocating immediate passage and implementation of these three job-generating trade agreements. Although politics, unfortunately, prevented immediate implementation, NCBA members rallied together contacting members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to stress the importance of liberalized trade to their family farms and ranches,” said Donald. “It is time to no longer focus on what went wrong but to direct all of our energy to ensuring the U.S. Senate passes all three agreements with no further delay.”
The Senate is expected to pass the agreements today, according to NCBA Manager of Legislative Affairs Kent Bacus. He said there is bipartisan support for the agreements in the Senate.
“We are confident the three agreements will be passed through the U.S. Senate. Trade Adjustment Assistant as urged by President Obama will be linked to the agreements,” said Bacus. “The president shouldn’t waste any more time and should sign the agreements this week. We are optimistic no additional political hurdles will get in the way.”
According to the International Trade Commission, the three agreements, once fully implemented will create 250,000 jobs. The agreements, according to Donald, would level the playing field for U.S. beef by reducing and eliminating import tariffs imposed by Colombia (80 percent), Panama (30 percent) and South Korea (40 percent). Once Congress approves the free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, Bacus said the U.S. will ultimately have free trade for U.S. beef with approximately two-thirds of the population in the Western Hemisphere.