The National Pork Producers Council has hailed the Senate’s passage of the free trade agreement between the U.S. and Peru as a “major victory” for U.S. pork producers. The Senate approved the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement on a 77-18 vote. President Bush is expected to sign the agreement.

“Passage of the Peru agreement is a major victory for U.S. pork producers, who will gain access to 28 million new customers and see their profits rise,” said NPPC President Jill Appell. NPPC, which led a coalition of agricultural organizations in support of the Peru trade agreement, said the pact will provide significant benefits to U.S. pork producers.

The agreement comes at a crucial time. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, when the agreement is fully implemented live hog prices will be 83 cents higher than they would be in the absence of the agreement. U.S. pork exports to Peru will be worth $30 million annually.

U.S. pork exports to Peru currently face duties as high as 25 percent. When the agreement takes effect, all pork products will see immediate reductions in tariffs and some pork products will receive unlimited duty-free access. A majority of products will see tariffs phased out over five years. After 10 years, all pork products will be duty-free.

In addition, Peru agreed in writing to recognize the meat inspection system of the United States to be equivalent to its own inspection system. The agreement also addresses labor and environmental issues, key sticking points to congressional approval of previous trade deals.

“We applaud Congress for recognizing the benefits of free trade and urge lawmakers to take up other pending free trade pacts,” said Appell. “Pork producers and all of agriculture depend on access to new overseas markets, such as Peru.” Trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea are still pending approval.
Source: NPPC