In response to indications that the White House is preparing a withdrawal from the free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea, the American Soybean Association issued a stern warning that withdrawal from the pact, and the larger strategy of brinkmanship with regard to trade agreements by the White House, could have disastrous consequences for the nation’s soybean farmers.
“Withdrawal from KORUS would hurt us all. As soybean farmers, we benefit greatly from exports, which contribute a $2 billion annual surplus to our nation’s balance of trade. Trade makes our local businesses and our communities stronger. Yet whether it’s South Korea, Mexico and Canada, or our neighbors on the Pacific Rim, we once again find ourselves fighting to communicate the value of trade to farmers,” said Ron Moore, ASA president. “With respect to South Korea, we supply nearly half of the 1.3 million tons of soybeans that country imports, with no tariffs as a result of the KORUS agreement. Most of Korea’s soybean imports, however, come from our competitors in Brazil and Argentina. If we withdraw, reinstatement of tariffs will make it hard to maintain our market share and will further increase our competitors’ advantage. And it would be devastating for our U.S. livestock customers who export meat products to South Korea.”
Global competition for soybeans makes trade agreements like KORUS extremely valuable to U.S. farmers.
“The idea that we’re the only game in town when it comes to selling soybeans or other agricultural products abroad is false. So is the notion that there’s always another country that will buy our commodities. Furthermore, even the threat to withdraw from this or any trade agreement is a dangerous course of action. Repeatedly walking our trade relationships to the brink, or actually breaking them, only weakens our standing abroad,” Moore said. “As American soybean farmers, we demand that the U.S. remain in KORUS, and that we move forward to negotiate new trade agreements rather than retreating from existing ones. We must expand rather than abandon access to essential overseas markets for the products we produce.”