(Washington, D.C.) America’s leading ag and food organizations representing thousands of farmers, ranchers, producers and workers sent a letter to Congress today urging action to improve agriculture exports. In a letter from over 50 of the most influential food and ag groups the organizations urged Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), legislation regularly passed by Congress to give the administration objectives and guidance in pursuing tariff-cutting trade agreements.
The letter notes that when it comes to trade agreements with tariff reduction, the United States is falling behind global economic competitors including China and the European Union:
“The essential question is not only whether the U.S. is working for new market access, but also how well the U.S. is doing so relative to our economic competitors,” the organizations write. “Regrettably, America is falling badly behind. Between 2010 and 2020, China and the European Union enjoyed over twice as much advantage from trade agreement tariff reductions as the U.S. In this decade, our situation to date is far worse. The U.S. has not implemented a comprehensive trade agreement that opens new markets in over a decade.”
The letter also notes that there is a bipartisan path to providing TPA that would give American negotiators the authority they need to complete market access agreements while maintaining high standards for international trade:
“We submit that a new Trade Promotion Authority can and should respect domestic economic needs of the U.S. The overwhelming bipartisan support for ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) stand as a model for more robust standards in many areas.”
The full text of the letter:
Dear Member of Congress:
For decades, the United States has exported dramatically more food and agricultural products than we have imported. For 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture now forecasts that the U.S. will run a food and agriculture trade deficit of $14.5 billion.
This should be a wake-up call regarding America’s declining economic influence in the world due to our failure to advance new tariff-reducing trade agreements. We respectfully urge you to advance legislation to establish new Trade Promotion Authority and to provide direction to the Executive Branch about the importance of expanding new markets for America’s food and agriculture products.
Agriculture-related industry is a driver of the American economy, but it is being thwarted by barriers to market access. With 95% of the world’s consumers overseas, the advantages of being the world’s most efficient and sustainable agricultural system are not being fully realized. Of course, the effects of this limitation reach far beyond the farm. While over one million American jobs exist because of agriculture trade, approximately 750,000 of those jobs are off-farm. Indeed, twice as many Americans now work in the manufacturing of agricultural products as in the manufacturing cars and trucks.
We appreciate the efforts of the Biden administration to advance trade relations, particularly through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). To the extent that this initiative is able to address specific sanitary/phytosanitary and other non-tariff barriers to trade, it can be highly constructive. We urge that the U.S. build on this initiative by also undertaking negotiations in pursuit of new tariff-reducing trade agreements.
The essential question is not only whether the U.S. is working for new market access, but also how well the U.S. is doing so relative to our economic competitors. Regrettably, America is falling badly behind. Between 2010 and 2020, China and the European Union enjoyed over twice as much advantage from trade agreement tariff reductions as the U.S. In this decade, our situation to date is far worse. The U.S. has not implemented a comprehensive trade agreement that opens new markets in over a decade. Meanwhile, just over a year ago, China added the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to its portfolio of trade agreements and displaced the U.S. as the European Union’s largest trading partner. China, the world’s largest trader, is establishing major economic ties in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa, and has requested participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a U.S. led strategic initiative from which the U.S. precipitously withdrew in 2017.
Falling badly behind in global economic influence has serious, enduring consequences. Taking markets from established competitors is far more difficult than establishing footholds as markets open. Further, economic competitors use trade agreements to establish rules of trade that give them long term structural advantages, such as the European Union’s monopolistic geographic indications trade policies. Thus, in establishing trade relationships, first movers have a major advantage. We note that even before economic sanctions achieved current prominence as a foreign policy tool, foreign policy experts frequently cited economic influence as a critical element of strategic capability.
We submit that a new Trade Promotion Authority can and should respect domestic economic needs of the U.S. The overwhelming bipartisan support for ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) stand as a model for more robust standards in many areas.
Thank you for your consideration.
Agribusiness Association of Iowa
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Feed Industry Association
American Seed Trade Association
American Soybean Association
Animal Health Institute
Carolina Feed Industry Association
Center for Dairy Excellence
Colorado Dairy Farmers
Corn Refiners Association
Dairy Producers of New Mexico
Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative
Farmers for Free Trade
Fresh Produce Association of the Americas
Global Cold Chain Alliance
Grain and Feed Association of Illinois
Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Inc.
International Dairy Foods Association
International Fresh Produce Association
Kansas Livestock Association
Minnesota Milk Producers Association
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Corn Growers Association
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Grain & Feed Association
National Milk Producers Federation
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Pork Producers Council
National Turkey Federation
Nebraska State Dairy Association
North American Meat Institute
North Carolina Dairy Producer Association
Northeast Agribusiness & Feed Alliance, Inc.
Northwest Horticultural Council
Ohio AgriBusiness Association
Oregon Dairy Farmers Association
Oregon Women for Agriculture
Pacific Northwest Grain & Feed Association
Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania
Sweetener Users Association
Texas Association of Dairymen
Texas Grain and Feed Association
U.S. Apple Association
U.S. Dairy Export Council
U.S. Dry Bean Council
United Dairy Farmers of Florida
USA Poultry & Egg Export Council
Vermont Dairy Producers Alliance
Virginia State Dairymen’s Association
Cc: President Joe Biden, The White House
Katherine Tai, United States Trade Representative