President Obama has signed the long awaited free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, completing years of negotiations and political wrangling. The FTAs, however, will not enter into force until implementation has been completed, a process that requires each government to bring its country into compliance with provisions of its respective FTA.

The three trade pacts represent the biggest trade deal since the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement. Doug Wolf, president of the National Pork Producers Council, attended the White House ceremony for the signing

NPPC is now encouraging the Obama administration and the FTA partner governments to implement the trade deals as soon as possible. The longer it takes to implement, the more U.S. market share in the FTA nations will be in jeopardy, according to NPPC.

NPPC led a coalition of more than 120 agricultural groups in support of the FTAs. The U.S. pork industry was instrumental in getting the trade agreements approved, particularly the agreement with South Korea.

Last December when the United States and the Asian nation were at an impasse over trade in autos, the U.S. pork industry agreed to move back the effective date for when much of its exports enter Korea at a zero tariff rate.

Congress approved the agreements last week, just as South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak arrived in Washington for a state visit. Colombia's and Panama's legislatures have approved the deals. The South Korean National Assembly still has to approve the pact.

The FTAs with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, when fully implemented, will add more than $11 to the price producers receive for each hog, generate more than $772 million in additional pork exports and create more than 10,200 direct U.S. pork industry jobs.

Source: Associated Press, NPPC