Cantwell Applauds Senate Passage of FTA

By:  Written by MCDN, KMAS
Source: Fiber One News Radio

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the Senate passage of a comprehensive trade package that includes Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. The American Farm Bureau estimates that the increased market opportunities for Washington State under these trade agreements could increase direct exports by $52.8 million per year and add hundreds of jobs to the state economy. The three trade agreements passed today eliminate tariffs on various agricultural products important to Washington’s economy, including potatoes, wine, beef, wheat, apples, cherries, and pears. The Korea FTA would immediately eliminate a 15 percent tariff on wine. During fiscal year 2010, 24 percent of the wine exported from Washington went to South Korea. ( Also under the agreement, South Korea would eliminate a 40 percent tariff on beef over 15 years. The American Farm Bureau estimates Washington state is expected to increase beef exports by $7 million per year. Beef production is the state’s 5th largest commodity and the market for American beef in South Korea has the potential to reach $1 billion.) Washington’s ports and waterways – the closest to Asia and Alaska of all U.S. ports – also stand to significantly benefit from the U.S.-Korea FTA.

(Washington state is the 3rd largest exporting state in the country and together, the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma comprise the second largest container load center in the country. Last year, $704 million in state revenue was generated from port activities and 8,480 companies exported their goods from operations in Washington. )

Washington state is the nation’s second largest grower and exporter of fruit, with exports of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables valued at more than $1.8 billion in 2009,(

The Free Trade Agreement with Colombia would immediately eliminate a 15 percent tariff on apples, which the Washington Apple Commission estimates could lead to increases in shipments of 50 to 100 percent this season. This year, Washington state’s apple crop going to Colombia was valued at $4.5 million.)