National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in regard to the submission of the Korea, Panama, and Colombia Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) for consideration by Congress:
“These three agreements are similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Both of those agreements have worsened the U.S. trade deficit, because the U.S. does not compete on a level playing field with other nations. America adheres to higher labor and environmental standards than other nations, so U.S. companies incur costs that companies in other nations do not.
“Labor and environmental standards, currency manipulation, and food security are protections that are absolutely essential in any trade agreement to ensure that a nation is able to protect itself and compete on a level playing field. In particular, South Korea has manipulated its currency twice in the past. Mexico devalued the peso shortly after the signing of NAFTA, wiping out all trade gains that the U.S. would have gotten otherwise. History is very likely to repeat itself without currency manipulation protections.
“Colombia has one of the worst labor records in the world, routinely committing violence against those who attempt to organize workers. In 2010, 51 union members were killed in Colombia. We should not reward the Colombian labor record by entering into a trade agreement with them.
“Agriculture has been one of the few sectors of the U.S. trade economy that consistently has a trade surplus. Since 1990, agriculture has had a positive trade balance every year. With countries that the U.S. has a trade agreement with, U.S. agriculture has a net trade deficit in seven of the past eight years.
“NFU strongly urges members of Congress to oppose the Korea, Panama, and Colombia Free Trade Agreements.”