In addition to U.S. Wheat Associates’ work helping public and private wheat buyers get the most value possible from U.S. wheat imports, the U.S. wheat industry advocates for trade policies that support open and fair competition. Looking back on 2011, several trade policy achievements hold the promise of an even more rewarding year in 2012 for wheat buyers and producers.
Perhaps most important, the United States ratified three free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama that add value to the partnership with U.S. wheat farmers. Swift implementation of these three important agreements will ensure that customers in these countries are no longer subject to tariffs on U.S. wheat imports.
Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) gained momentum this year. Several countries – most notably Japan – expressed interest in joining the nine current TPP negotiating countries. Details of the agreement are taking shape and, after a successful Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, there is hope for a final agreement in 2012. Once complete, the TPP will help lower tariffs and other trade barriers facing U.S. wheat and help improve economic opportunity for each member country.
While progress in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round in 2011 was slow at best, the WTO remains a useful organization for the international trading system. USW fully supports the fundamental objective of the Doha Round to improve the trading prospects of developing countries. Last month, Director-General Pascal Lamy told WTO members that “in a context of greater economic uncertainty and rising global risks, it is all the more important that the process of global trade opening continues.”
U.S. wheat importers made record use of the USDA’s GSM-102 Export Credit Guarantee Program. GSM-102 provides credit guarantees to encourage financing of commercial exports of U.S. agricultural products, while providing competitive credit terms to buyers, especially in developing countries.
Finally, in the face of critical budget challenges, the U.S. Congress has agreed to maintain full funding of the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) programs for fiscal year 2012. We believe that is because these programs provide an excellent return to U.S. farmers and their overseas customers. USW and the entire U.S. wheat industry will continue advocating for MAP and FMD so that we can continue offering the trade service, technical assistance and market information on which our customers rely.