Agriculture exports focus on agreementsWritten by Saige Albert
As international trade becomes more prevalent in agriculture, trade issues and agreements play a crucial role in encouraging the growth of the industry.
“The biggest thing as far as exports are concerned is getting all of the various trade agreements that are out there sorted out,” comments Western United States Agriculture Trade Association (WUSATA) Executive Director Andy Anderson. “We have just signed agreements with South Korea and Colombia, and those are going well.”
Anderson remarks that the agreements with South Korea and Colombia that have been signed recently have resulted in trade increases.
“We are seeing an increase in trade,” he says. “In fact, we just had a trade mission to South Korea with all of the Directors of Agriculture from the western states, and we are seeing a lot of dividends paid from that.”
Aside from signing the agreements, Anderson notes that WUSATA has devoted a large amount of time to education.
“We do a lot of training and spend a lot of time educating people,” he says. “It is about educating people on how to use our food products – teaching them to understand how to use the products, how to prepare them and that kind of thing.”
“One of the big issues as far as trade goes is what kind of barriers are put up,” Anderson explains. “Agriculture is one of the basic industries that all countries are concerned about.”
With concerns about food security and protecting local industries, he says that foreign competition is an important factor for countries to consider when importing foods, and from time to time, false trade barriers are set up.
Anderson uses rice as an example, noting that countries cite food safety as the reason for not allowing imports.
“A lot of Asian countries bring up food safety issues, saying U.S. rice is not as safe as South Korean or Japanese rice, which is not true,” he explains. “But until we jump through all the science to prove it, they can keep the U.S. out.”
“The TPP (trans-pacific partnership) is an effort to get everybody on the same page – to get all countries to treat exports and imports the same way so there aren’t any false trade barriers,” he says.
He continues, “The TPP is just an effort to try to get everybody standardized, and if there are some of these non-tariff trade barriers, countries will have recourse. There will be a process to go through to get things taken care of.”
Though Anderson says the World Trade Organization was designed to address trade issues, the organization has not been moving forward on a number of concerns.
“We are seeing all of these regional and country-to-country trade agreements are made because the WTO is bogged down and not moving forward on issues,” Anderson comments. “We are seeing a proliferation of trade agreements to solve some of these problems.”