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Statement by Agricultural Secretary Mike Johanns Regarding the Importance of Trade Promotion Authority to Agriculture
"Congressional reauthorization of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is vital to the U.S. agricultural community and overall economy. TPA provides U.S. negotiators with the authority to negotiate agreements with trading partners that can be submitted to Congress for its approval. Only with this authority will our trading partners take U.S. positions seriously and ultimately complete agreements that maximize the opportunities for America's farmers and ranchers.
"Since Trade Promotion Authority was last authorized in 2002, U.S. agricultural exports have grown from $53.1 billion to $68.7 billion in 2006. Each billion dollars in agricultural exports support 13,400 jobs throughout America, both on and off the farm. It is no secret that 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside the United States. At this time, almost 25 percent of our agricultural production is sold abroad, and the United States accounts for almost a fifth of all world agricultural trade.
"This year, we are forecasting the fourth consecutive year of record sales of $77.5 billion in farm exports that support 1,038,500 American jobs. Removing trade barriers and lowering tariffs will create new export opportunities for American farmers and ranchers in a fast-moving and growing world marketplace. We cannot cede our global leadership position by unilaterally tying our hands at the trade negotiating table, while our competitors secure agreements that give them better market access and put U.S. exporters at a disadvantage.
"Under Trade Promotion Authority, we completed more than a dozen bilateral free trade agreements valuing $27 billion in agricultural exports—equivalent to over a third of our total export value in 2006. We expect continued implementation of the Central America and the Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement to steadily increase our agricultural sales to that region, which have already reached a record $2.24 billion in 2006. Pending free trade agreements with trading partners Panama, Peru and Colombia will provide significant additional long-term benefits for sales already topping $2 billion in 2006. The recently concluded agreement with Korea will mean immediate removal of duties on $2 billion of U.S. agricultural exports, and we will gain improved access for beef, pork, poultry and other commodities.
"We need only look at the astounding benefits to American agriculture of the North American Free Trade Agreement to see the importance of market access and lowered barriers for our producers. Canada and Mexico, our NAFTA partners and our top two agricultural export destinations, have accounted for 55 percent of U.S. agricultural export growth since 1994, averaging a $1.1 billion increase in exports each year, totaling $22.83 billion in agricultural exports in 2006.
"I remain committed to negotiating increased market access through the Doha Round. To realize a successful conclusion to these negotiations, our trading partners must know that we are credible and have the authority to reach an agreement. We can not risk being benched on the sidelines. We must successfully gain and maintain access to these growing marketplaces to ensure continued strength in the American agricultural economy. Trade Promotion Authority is key to this success."