Pork Producers Need Exports; TPA Promotes Trade

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 18, 2015 – The National Pork Producers Council in congressional testimony given today reiterated the importance of trade to U.S. pork producers and urged lawmakers to approve legislation that facilitates finalizing free trade agreements, which boost exports and create jobs.

Testifying on behalf of NPPC, Dr. Howard Hill, a pork producer and veterinarian from Cambridge, Iowa, who is chairman of the association’s Trade Policy Committee, told members of the House Committee on Agriculture that the U.S. pork industry exports more pork to the 18 countries with which the United States has free trade agreements than to the rest of the nations combined.

Since 1989 – the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets – pork exports have increased 1,550 percent in value and 1,268 percent in volume. The United States shipped more than $6.6 billion of pork to foreign destinations in 2014.

He called on Congress to approve legislation renewing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) so that new trade deals can be finalized and implemented to help the U.S. economy.

TPA defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets to review it and vote yes or no – without amendments – on it. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law being approved in August 2002 and expiring June 30, 2007.

The key reason TPA is needed, Hill pointed out in his testimony, is for concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations among the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries. That deal would be the most significant commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers, generating more than 10,000 pork industry jobs.

“U.S. trade negotiators will have the final leverage they need to close the TPP negotiations when Congress passes TPA,” testified Hill. “It will allow nations to cut to their bottom line negotiating position in TPP.”

Failure to pass TPA, noted Hill, would send a signal to the world that the United States is turning its back on the Asia-Pacific region – the fastest growing area in the world – and allowing other countries to write the rules for international trade.

“The U.S. pork industry, U.S. agriculture, indeed the entire U.S. economy needs TPA, and we need it soon,” Hill concluded. 

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