The South Korean Ambassador to the US, Han Duk-soo visited the states last week to do a farm and manufacturing tour in anticipation of congress ratifying the US/Korea Free Trade agreement. CEO of North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, Charles Hall was involved with the tour:
“The Korea Free Trade Agreement with the US has been pending for a while now, and we are providing, even without that agreement, I think the United States provides something like 30% of Korea’s total ag imports. If we get this, obviously these tariffs that we’re currently charged, I think the average tariff on agricultural products is something like 40%, I believe, these would phase out to zero pretty quickly. I think about two-thirds of our products would end up going into Korea duty-free. So, obviously we would gain even more of that market. And that’s for a variety of products: pork, poultry, soybeans, cotton.”
(See the NCFB video of the Ambassador's visit...)
Three pending Free Trade Agreements have been collecting dust in the halls of congress since the Bush Administration, and now the fear is, and it’s already begun to happen, is that other countries will step in front of the US and take business that was once ours:
“Canada, the Europeans, and even the Latin American countries, are getting in there, there’s something like 130 free trade agreements that have been negotiated that the US is not a party to, and the ones that we are a party to can be counted on both hands, or maybe one hand, so, we’re getting out-competed on signing and entering into these agreements. And they do have concrete results, the tariffs do get reduced and do go away to zero, and that’s a gain for everybody involved.”
The meeting with the Korean ambassador dovetailed with another meeting held after he left the state, and that had to do with the potential and current limitations of the shipping ports on the North Carolina coast. Hall explains:
“We’re seeing a lot of opportunities off east coast ports, I think with Wilmington and Morehead City, there are things that could be done to benefit current shippers, people that are already using the ports for ag exporting. And there’s probably some things that could be done long-term that would create new opportunities that don’t exist right now.
I’ll give you an example: we’ve had an initiative here to promote the export of North Carolina soybeans, but we don’t have a bulk loading terminal in North Carolina, so we focused on loading shipping containers which we can send out of the port of Wilmington, or if you’re in the northern part of the state, they go out of the port at Norfolk, Virginia.
Something that would benefit the people in the southeastern North Carolina shipping soybeans in containers would be just to get more services through the port of Wilmington, so there are more containers available, more ships and more routes departing from Wilmington to the Far East. You know, long term, could we put a bulk loading facility on Morehead City? Possibly yes. That’s something that’s very interesting to contemplate, would be that we could load bulk vessels out of North Carolina.”
Charles Hall, CEO of North Carolina Soybean Producers Association
NCDA Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler discussed this with SFNToday, click here...
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