Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, National Pork Producers Council President Barb Determan said the next multilateral round of trade negotiations holds the greatest potential to reduce tariffs and other barriers that now preclude U.S. producers from many export markets.

“While U.S. pork producers support bilateral and regional trade initiatives, clearly the most important trade initiative in the offing is a new World Trade Organization agreement,” Determan said. “This is because global agricultural tariffs average 62 percent, while U.S. agricultural tariffs average only 12 percent. The Doha Ministerial Declaration provides a firm foundation for a successful negotiation on agriculture.”

Determan thanked the committee for supporting bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which she said was vital to the Doha Round's successful completion, and urged Senators to push for prompt consideration of TPA legislation.

“TPA legislation is not an option; it is a prerequisite. Without TPA the WTO negotiations will languish and U.S. farm families and workers will not achieve the level playing field they deserve,” said Determan.

While U.S. pork exports have increased more than 100 percent since the completion of the Uruguay Round, Determan pointed out that world pork tariffs remain extremely high. Coupled with foreign subsidies and non-tariff barriers, U.S. producers are effectively locked out of many foreign markets.

U.S. pork producers' top priority in the WTO trade negotiations was a zero-for-zero initiative on pork, which would eliminate in the shortest possible time frame all tariffs, all export subsidies and all trade-distorting domestic subsidies for pork and pork products, noted Determan. Pork producers in Canada and Mexico also support this initiative.

Concerning bilateral trade initiatives, she predicted that the Free Trade Agreement with Chile would set the tone for other trade agreements. NPPC wants Chile to reduce its tariffs on imported pork and to agree to accept pork from all USDA-approved facilities, something the country has refused to do.

Further, Determan pointed out that U.S. pork producers cannot support a FTA with Australia until that country abandons the non-tariff trade barriers that prevent the importation of U.S. pork.

NPPC news release.