WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman Bob Goodlatte issued the following statement after House passage today of the Dominican Republic – Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
“I am very pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives joined with our colleagues in the Senate to pass CAFTA, a trade agreement that will level the trade playing field with our Central American neighbors and provide U.S. producers with greater access to these markets. The United States currently exports $1.7 billion in goods to the CAFTA countries, and yet we import $2.4 billion, most of which come into the United States duty-free. With the passage of CAFTA, U.S. producers will now have the same access to those markets that their producers have to our market.
American Agriculture clearly understood the potential of CAFTA, with almost every agricultural sector issuing letters in support. The American Farm Bureau believes it will be a solid win for American agriculture and, in urging support of this trade agreement, a coalition of other food and agriculture organizations called it a ‘home-run’ for American agriculture. President Bush championed this trade agreement, noting that it will be a signal of our nation’s commitment to democracy and prosperity for the entire region.
The U.S. meat industry will clearly benefit from passage of this trade agreement. Tariffs on poultry exports to CAFTA countries have been as high as 164 percent. Under this new trade agreement, these countries will provide immediate duty-free access on chicken leg quarters. In the case of beef, the CAFTA countries will immediately eliminate tariffs on imports of U.S. prime and choice cuts of beef---something that the U.S. beef industry has wanted for some time.
It is also worth noting that all former Secretaries of Agriculture of both parties----Ann Veneman, Dan Glickman, Mike Espy, Clayton Yuetter, John Block and Bob Bergland----announced their support for CAFTA on April 19, describing it as a vote for fairness and reciprocal market access.
As a result of CAFTA, our ability to export to those nations will match their ability to export to us, and our products will no longer lose out to imports from third countries that already benefit from preferential agreements. The passage of CAFTA is a win-win for U.S. agriculture.”