Promising tens of millions of dollars more in U.S. fruit and vegetable export sales, Congress is expected to approve trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama by mid-October.
The House and Senate are expected to vote on the trade agreements Oct. 12, said Chris Garza, director of government relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, D.C. “After five years of waiting for some kind of action on it, it will take a week and half this actually to get done,” Garza said Oct. 7.
After a long period of back and forth negotiations with Republicans about related trade adjustment assistance legislation, President Obama submitted the trade pacts to Congress Oct. 3. Stating the agreements will provide a major boost to exports, Obama urged Congress to act quickly.
Farm Bureau and trade authorities estimate that the three free trade agreements combined represent about $2.5 billion in additional agricultural exports. Korea is a top five export market for U.S. agriculture, he said, while Colombia is the largest export market for agricultural products in South America, Garza said.
“We definitely expect to see gains out of these trade agreements,” he said.
According to a state-by-state analysis of the trade agreements by the Farm Bureau, California’s fruit, vegetable and nut exports to Korea will increase by $65 million, Colombia would see more than $1.2 million in gains, and exports to Panama would grow by $4.5 million.
Florida’s exports of fruits, vegetable and nuts are expected to increase by $15.4 million annually because of the free trade deals, with gains in sales to Korea comprising $14.3 million of that total.
Likewise, the trade deals will boost Washington state exports of fruits, vegetables and nuts by nearly $12.5 million per year, with Korea accounting for about $11.5 million of that total, Farm Bureau estimates.
Arizona exports of fruits, vegetables and nuts will surge by $4.1 million, with $3.9 million of the increase attributed to new sales to Korea. Farm Bureau believes Oregon will notch an annual gain of $3.7 million in fruit, vegetable and nut exports from the agreements, with Korea accounting for $3.4 million.
Texas exports of fruits, vegetables and nuts will increase by $2.6 million, Farm Bureau believes, with Korea accounting for about $2.4 million of the gain.
The U.S. is in the midst of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific partnership, which includes the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Other than that, Garza said there are no other free trade agreements being worked on by the U.S., he said.