Western Growers President & CEO Tom Nassif sent a letter to President Trump yesterday urging him not to withdraw from the U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).
“I would strongly urge you to not withdraw from KORUS or any other existing trade agreement, the disruption that such actions would cause to the fresh produce industry would be devastating as growing decisions for many crops are made years in advance, based upon established trade relationships and customer loyalty,” said Nassif in the letter. “Once altered or abrogated, these relationships cannot be repaired quickly if ever.”
Countries across Asia are among the greatest market opportunities for U.S. farmers, and the United States cannot afford government actions that would back away from existing agreements. In fact, the KORUS has resulted in positive trade for agriculture, providing a trade surplus for U.S. fresh vegetables, fruit, and tree nuts in the amount of $647 million for calendar year 2016.
If the United States does not lead the way in opening and expanding market access in this region, other countries will step in and fill the supply gap, to the detriment of U.S. farmers and the rural economies they support across America.
In the letter, Nassif agreed that there are certain aspects of KORUS and every trade relationship that can be improved and strengthened to better serve farmers across the country, whether within the text of these agreements or through other bilateral cooperation to facilitate greater exports of U.S. produce. South Korea continues to maintain tariffs, tariff rate quotas, and phytosanitary barriers against various produce commodities, and they should continue to be pressed to address these barriers to trade.
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