Dear Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack,
The undersigned organizations write in support of the U.S. – Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA), an agreement implemented a decade ago that has been successful in delivering benefits to American farmers, ranchers, workers, and agribusinesses. On March 16th the Panamanian government submitted a formal request to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking to revise the agricultural tariff elimination terms of the TPA. We urge you to support this agreement as passed by the U.S. Congress and oppose any change to the remaining Panamanian agricultural tariff phase outs, tariff-rate quotas (TRQs), or agricultural safeguards.
The agreement is still in the process of being fully implemented with gradual annual tariff reductions and small growth in tariff rate quotas (TRQs). Panama’s TRQs for pork and pork products, chicken, dairy, potatoes, onions, kidney beans, corn, rice, and processed tomatoes have been in place for ten years and were negotiated to slowly transition and minimize potential negative impacts. Several of these TRQs have another ten years of slowly increasing before free trade with Panama is achieved, providing sufficient time for the local industries to prepare and adapt. In addition, under the TPA, Panama is also allowed to impose temporary agricultural safeguards on certain import sensitive products as it transitions to a more open market, just as the United States can.
Ensuring the TPA is fully implemented as originally negotiated supports the need to diversify export markets for U.S. food and agricultural products, which is an important element of the Administration’s work to prevent harmful supply chain disruptions. Additionally, making modifications to an implemented TPA would be an alarming precedent to set. With the lack of any current new free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations taking place, uninterrupted implementation of the current market access opportunities secured through our existing FTAs is all the more vital for American farmers and food manufacturers. Panamanian consumers welcome high-quality American grown and produced goods, and the TPA helps U.S.-origin products to be cost competitive with other foreign suppliers.
Thank you for your attention. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Feed Industry Association
American Soybean Association
Corn Refiners Association
Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative
International Dairy Foods Association
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Grain and Feed Association
National Milk Producers Federation
National Pork Producers Council
North American Export Grain Association
North American Meat Institute
Sweetener Users Association
U.S. Dairy Export Council
US Dry Bean Council
USA Rice Federation