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Federal and state governments play a critical role in ensuring American agricultural producers access to international markets that are operated in an equitable manner to our own. Obtaining market access for our agricultural products should be one of the highest priorities for the Administration and Congress.
(Updated September 2015)
The multilateral WTO process has the greatest potential in raised and harmonized standards that level the playing field in regard to treating labor fairly, not degrading the environment and empowering family farmers and ranchers rather than exploiting them.
Trade with Cuba
Current U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba allow for U.S. food and agricultural sales to Cuba but contain very challenging and specific licensing and financial provisions to which U.S. exporters must adhere. U.S. trade policy to Cuba is inconsistent with trade policy to other countries.
Trade with China
China is a growing market for U.S. agriculture and the third largest market for U.S. exports in recent years. Expansion of the Chinese market for U.S. products could be larger if more Chinese buyers could visit U.S. suppliers but too often U.S. visas are delayed or denied to prospective China buyers, resulting in lost sales and decreased U.S. competitiveness in the China market.
Unilateral sanctions that limit commercial, government-assisted, or humanitarian movement of agricultural products have proven to be ineffective mechanisms to further foreign policy and are disruptive to international food trade.
Trade Promotion Authority
Under trade promotion authority, the President is able to negotiate trade agreements and submit them to Congress for a simple up or down vote. The Congress then has a limited time period in which to approve or reject the agreement without any amendments. Current fast track trade promotion authority expired in 2007.
Harmonization of International Standards
Sanitary or phytosanitary measures provide for the protection of animal and plant health and are contained in the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement). Non-sanitary or phytosanitary measures (e.g., certain labeling requirements) also affect international trade in food and agricultural products and are contained in the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).
Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures
The SPS Agreement requires countries to base health and safety measures affecting products in international trade on sound science and appropriate risk assessment. Despite the agreement, a number of WTO member countries continue to impose sanitary and phytosanitary measures which lack a sound scientific basis, which create significant barriers to market access abroad for U.S. agricultural products.
Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
NASDA is concerned that the TBT Agreement does not currently provide for greater international harmonization of standards, and does not contain the types of enforceable disciplines that would permit U.S. exporters to effectively challenges protectionist trade measures.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
The movement of GMOs and other biotechnology products to the international market is constrained by the unwillingness of some foreign governments to accept these products. In addition, labeling of genetically modified products has been proposed by many foreign governments as a condition for accepting these products, potentially presenting an additional barrier to trade.
Highway Trade Corridors
The North American Free Trade Agreement contains provisions for national treatment of cross-border trucking. Differences in trucking standards between the three NAFTA countries have created inefficiencies and increased transportation costs borne by producers and shippers.
Cargo Preference Laws/Jones Act
The Cargo Preference Laws require up to 75 percent of U.S. food aid shipments to be shipped on U.S. flag vessels, increase the cost of shipping food aid and reduce the quantity of food aid that can be made available to needy countries. The Jones Act requires all goods carried from one point in the United States to another to be carried on vessels built and repaired in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, manned by U.S. citizen crews, and registered in the United States, creating a competitive disadvantage for American agriculture, as compared to our foreign counterparts.
State Trading Enterprises (STEs)
State trading enterprises can have the effect of distorting trade in the world market place. These enterprises can disrupt the market place if they become subsidized entities which enjoy monopoly buying authority.
Perishable and Seasonal Commodities
When shipments of perishable and seasonal commodities, or live animals, get held up in a port of destination, due to SPS issues or other trade related disputes, a rapid resolution of the issue is critical to prevent deterioration of the perishable cargo. Very few trade agreements include protocols for resolving these kinds of situations in the timely fashion that is needed to allow the quick release of perishable and seasonal commodities.
Canadian Ministerial Exemption System
The Canadian system of ministerial exemptions, or “easements” that control the importation of U.S. produce, in particular potatoes, inhibits trade for U.S. producers and serves to protect Canadian producers from competition and supply from the United States.
NASDA urges the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to include the ministerial exemption system on the agenda for bilateral trade negotiations, and seek its removal to facilitate agricultural trade between the United States and Canada.
 This section addresses the SPS agreement as it relates to trade. For NASDA policy on sanitary and phytosanitary measures please see Section 1 Animal Health and/or Section 2 Plant Health.
Legislation that blocks the use of federal resources for the agricultural marketing and promotion of a United States grown agricultural product hurts our farmers. Congress should be encouraged to repeal legislation that blocks promotion of any legal agricultural products grown in the United States.
Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS)
FAS provides valuable assistance to state departments of agriculture and agricultural producers of both bulk commodities and high valued food products in establishing and maintaining markets around the world and in promoting the sale and consumption of U.S. grown agricultural products through a variety of programs, including foreign market development, market promotion, outreach, direct credits and loan guarantees.
Market Access Program (MAP)
The Market Access Program authorizes funding to support partial reimbursement to private companies for qualified overseas brand promotion of U.S. agricultural products. The policy rationale is that the promotion of brands containing U.S. agricultural products helps to boost exports of U.S. products.
Export Financing & Credit Guarantees
Programs have been designed to increase or maintain U.S. agricultural exports by having a federal agency act as the guarantor of financing for sales of U.S. agricultural commodities in foreign markets. NASDA believes that export financing and credit guarantee like GSM 102 and 103 programs are important resources for agricultural producers entering the foreign market place.
Export Enhancement Program
The Export Enhancement Program (EEP) and similar policies became necessary because U.S. exporters faced unfair and highly subsidized competition from the European Union. Current U.S trade policy favors the elimination of export subsidies and the United States has put forth an ambitious proposal in the current round of multilateral trade negotiations to eliminate export subsidies completely with reductions phased in over a five-year period in equal annual increments.
NASDA supports the promotion of international markets for American grown agricultural products and opposes legislative efforts that specifically exclude the ability to promote and market those products abroad.
International food aid program budgets have been reduced over the years due to fiscal constraints.
Global economic conditions impact the value and volume of trade. It is in the United States’ interest to promote and ensure a financially stable global marketplace so that trade between nations is not disrupted.
(Updated September 2013)
Existing Federal law requires most imports, including many food items to bear labels informing the ultimate purchaser of their country of origin. There is value in policy that allows for differentiation of product in this manner, offering American consumers important Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) information as they make purchases within the U.S. retail food supply.
There is equal value in assuring that COOL policy be implemented in a manner that ensures the United States is able to maintain its obligations under negotiated regional and international trade agreements and does not prompt retaliatory trade actions against U.S. agricultural products.
Under current U.S. law, the federal government has certain legal means and remedies in place to address concerns with agricultural trade. A special rapid dispute resolution mechanism should be established for use specific to perishable commodities.
NASDA supports the establishment of international monitoring tools to address possible trade-distorting manipulation of monetary valuation and exchange rates.