IRVINE, CA. (December 3, 2010)
The specialty crop industry was very pleased with the announcement by President Barack Obama that outstanding concerns with the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) have been resolved and is one step closer to Congressional action.
"I am encouraged by the President's commitment to secure passage of the free trade agreement with South Korea,” said Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif. “Korea presents huge export opportunities for Arizona and California vegetables, fruits, and tree nuts. We urge the president and the U.S. trade representative to build upon the agricultural market openings already achieved in the text of the U.S.-Korea FTA as the agreement is implemented."
After implementation, the FTA with South Korea will be the most important and commercially significant free trade agreement outside of the Western hemisphere and could provide considerable benefits for specialty crop farmers. South Korea, the fifteenth largest economy in the world, is a significant market for U.S. agriculture, importing $¬¬¬15 billion in agricultural products in 2009 — $3.9 billion from the United States. Included therein is $23 million in stone fruit, $84.3 million in fresh citrus and $106.8 million in tree nuts.
Western Growers efforts on the FTA with South Korea provide a basis to continue the endeavor to obtain worldwide duty free treatment for fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables.
Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship ninety percent of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in California and seventy five percent of those commodities in Arizona. This totals about half of the nation’s fresh produce.