On July 7, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell applauded committee passage of a comprehensive trade package, including free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia, as well as an extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) through 2013.
TAA ensures that workers who lose their jobs and financial security as a result of trade-related shifts in production have an opportunity to transition to new jobs and retrain to enter emerging sectors of the economy.
According to the International Trade Commission, these trade agreements will create 250,000 U.S. jobs and increase U.S. exports by $13 billion.
“Washington state is a very trade-dependent state, and this agreement means a lot for Washington agriculture,” Cantwell said at today’s hearing. “South Korea has 45 percent tariffs on apples and pears and a 25 percent tariff on cherries, as well as tariffs on wine and potatoes. But despite this, we had $11 million worth of cherries going to Korea in 2010. So having these tariffs reduced could mean huge increases in Washington agriculture products. …These trade agreements are about opening up markets to products that we are already seeing high tariffs on and getting our products accepted into other markets.”
With South Korea representing Washington’s fifth largest export market, Washington state agriculture will see significant benefits under the United States-Korea FTA. The reduction in tariffs would reduce the price of cherries by 75 cents a pound in South Korea and could increase Washington wine sales by 45 percent. Beef is the state’s fifth largest commodity, and the market for American beef in South Korea has the potential to reach $1 billion. ♦