National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Garry Niemeyer, a farmer from Auburn, Ill., testified before the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday during a hearing to review the pending Trade Promotion Agreement with Panama. The hearing focused on the impact and advantages that agreement would have for the United States.
"The Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will establish a 298,700-ton duty-free preferential tariff rate quota for corn with an elimination of the over-quota tariff of 40 percent in the next 15 years," Niemeyer said. "This is the certainty growers need to ensure robust, reliable export markets."
Niemeyer's testimony expressed support for the pending agreement and the benefits it would have for corn producers. The United States is the largest corn producer and exporter in the world, and exports of corn and corn co-products are essential to producer income. During the 2009-10 marketing year, the United States exported 50.4 million metric tons of corn worldwide. Corn co-products such as distillers grains represent a growing export market for domestic producers, with 14,000 metric tons exported to Panama in 2009-2010 alone.
"If the United States fails to capture the opportunities presented in the Panama TPA, our share of Panama's agricultural imports will plummet," said Niemeyer. "As a producer, it is frustrating to watch other nations achieve preferential access to markets and secure a competitive advantage over U.S. corn and corn products."
U.S. agricultural exports to Panama exceeded $450 million in 2010. Considered one of the fastest growing economies in the region, achieving preferential trade status with Panama would help the U.S. maintain a competitive position in an important market.
"We appreciate efforts by U.S. trade negotiators to increase meaningful and achievable access to foreign markets," Niemeyer said. "Moreover, U.S. corn producers stand ready to develop and provide corn products to meet the demands of modern global consumption."
NCGA remains committed to the development and maintenance of fair and open global trade policies.