WASHINGTON — The International Dairy Foods Association urged Congress to move quickly to approve pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with the Republic of Korea, Colombia and Panama in written testimony submitted to the House Committee on Ways and Means. The testimony emphasized the positive impact these agreements will have on the dairy industry, and was submitted as part of a recent hearing that focused on the economic and job creating benefits of FTAs.
"While IDFA supports all three pending agreements, the agreement with Korea is one of the most important free-trade deals for the American economy since the North American Free Trade Agreement," said Clay Hough, IDFA's senior group vice president. "The Korea-U.S. free trade agreement represents a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. dairy industry to increase and sustain its growing presence in an extremely important economic region and could mean 10,000 or more additional U.S. jobs across the dairy industry value chain."
U.S. dairy exports to the Pacific Rim region were up more than 100 percent last year. Korea, in particular, has emerged as an important market for U.S. dairy processors. In 2010 South Korea was the U.S. dairy industry's sixth-largest export market and imported over $115 million worth of American dairy products. An International Trade Commission report analyzing the economic effects of the Korea-U.S. FTA found that the dairy industry would be among the industries seeing the largest gains in output and employment. Using 2008 as a base year, dairy exports to Korea would see an increase of up to $336 million or 478 percent.
"If Congress fails to act quickly, this tremendous opportunity for market growth will be critically threatened, especially in light of the rapid pace at which Korea has negotiated other FTAs with other dairy exporters, such as the agreement negotiated with the European Union," IDFA said in its testimony.
Korea and the European Union have negotiated a competing agreement that is on-course to be implemented by July 2011. The full testimony is available here.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 550 companies representing a $110-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's 220 dairy processing members run more than 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States. IDFA can be found online at www.idfa.org.
Source: International Dairy Foods Association