Froman talks trade agreement with Iowa ag leaders

Froman talks trade agreement with Iowa ag leaders

David Struthers of Collins, Past-president of IPPA, poses a question to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman on July 14.

Exports are extremely important to Iowa farmers and the state’s top agriculture leaders met with America’s top trade official last night to discuss the prospects for increased trade, namely the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement involving the U.S. and eleven other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman held an hour-long roundtable discussion with leaders from the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the Iowa Soybean Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Biodiesel Board at IPPA headquarters in Clive.

Ambassador Froman spoke candidly on TPP and the prospects for passage by Congress. He noted that you never know how the vote will go until it’s taken, but he’s optimistic lawmakers will eventually approve the agreement. Congress isn’t expected to take up the issue until after the November elections.

The ag leaders asked questions of the ambassador about TPP and were united in their support of the free trade agreement. Iowa agriculture will benefit greatly from the deal.

The trade deal levels the playing field for American workers and businesses, leading to more made-in-America exports and higher-paying American jobs, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

TPP presents an unprecedented opportunity to open and expand markets in the Asia-Pacific region and is strongly supported by the pork industry.

NPPC believes the deal could be the “biggest commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers.” Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes estimates the agreement will exponentially increase U.S. pork exports to Pacific Rim countries and help create more than 10,000 U.S. jobs tied to those exports.

TPP negotiations were initiated in late 2008 and concluded last October. In addition to the U.S., the trade deal includes Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These 12 nations account for nearly 40 percent of global gross domestic product. The countries combined have more than 800 million consumers.