Monday, August 30, 2010

Senator Crapo and Trade

A few words with Senator Mike Crapo on Trade

Boise--Senator Mike Crapo is the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness. Earlier this week Korea announced plans to drop some restrictions on US beef imports, we talked to the Senator at a roundtable discussion at the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The main topic of discussion was the Korea Free Trade Agreement which could increase exports of U.S. goods to that country by $11 billion and expand markets for two-thirds of our agricultural base,

“Just last month,” Crapo told the roundtable, “Korea opened its market to Idaho potatoes again and Idaho beef exports have nearly doubled over last year.”

Korea announced that it’s dropping some its restriction on US beef imports this week, you raised one of the first voices of concern years ago, a victory for our ranchers?

I’m not a part of the final negotiations on this; but when Korea initially put up its barriers on beef, I and members of Congress called our US Trade Representative and advocated that the US push back aggressively on the disqualification of beef . Basically the reason all of this is happening is that we were able to establish that the US beef industry is the safest in the world. Furthermore, we demonstrated the fact that we could meet any standard any nation could expect ; we exceeded it here and will exceed it anywhere else. Bottomline It’s because of the quality and capability of our beef industry and I expect to see growth.

This has to help a sluggish beef market?

I agree, we cannot quantify it, but I think we should see a dramatic increase in US Beef exports to Korea. According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation the value of U.S. beef exports to South Korea reached $225 million, up 130 percent compared with the first six months of 2009.

Switching gears, on another trade issue, the Mexican tariffs are a little troublesome; NAFTA and trucking are at odds, what can be done to ease that situation?

We‘ve constantly had a conflict between the United States and Mexico on trucking. The argument on the Mexican side is that NAFTA is unfair to their truckers. The response on the U.S. side is that safety standards U.S. truckers have to meet are not being met by the Mexican trucking industry. Its resolving those issues that creates the problem. I believe that what we are seeing Mexico push back in an effort to say, ‘hey we meet the standards, the trade agreement requires.

The details of that question cannot be established by experts, I don’t know the answer as to who is right, I believe the answer is not easy to obtain and quantify I believe much like the beef situation with Korea, it’s the kind of thing that we are ultimately need to resolve.

Do you think Transportation interests need to step back and look at the big picture?

Yes, but I think all Americans need to step back and look at the big picture; because there are circumstances where we could dramatically increase strength of our economy by opening markets for our products and opportunities for export.

On the other side of the coin there are unfair and anti-competitive barriers on US exports that remain in place with other nations and so we got to be vigilant in both areas. No agreement is better than a bad agreement; especially one that locks us onto an unfair playing field.

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