WASHINGTON, D.C. - Oregon Congressman Bob Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, today lauded Chile's decision to import U.S. wheat that originates from ares surveyed and found free of karnal bunt fungus, action Smith first urged in an Agriculture Committee trade mission to Chile last January.
Smith has made reducing trade barriers and increasing U.S. agricultural exports a priority of the Agriculture Committee in the 105th Congress. In January, Smith led a delegation of committee members to Chile, urging the Chileans to drop non-tariff trade barriers to U.S. wheat, beef, poultry, and many fruits and vegetables. After his return, and following meetings with Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty, the Clinton Administration's point man on South American trade, Smith urged President Bill Clinton to press Chilean President Eduardo Frei on non-tariff trade barriers in Frei's February visit to the United States.
"I'm delighted the Chileans are instituting a new system which will allow U.S. wheat to again flow to Chile, which seems more ready than ever to accept not just the benefits of global trade, but the responsibilities, as well. Pacific Northwest wheat could be heading to Chile in two to three weeks. Chile's decision represents real progress and they are to be commended for their effort," Smith said.
"This shows how successful we can be in reducing non-tariff barriers and encouraging agricultural exports if we put the time and effort into it. The Agriculture Committee first raised this issue with the Chileans in January and I have been pressing them ever since. I'm convinced those efforts had a very positive effect, and I will continue to place trade at the very top of the Committee's agenda," Smith said.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District, which includes most of eastern, southern, and central Oregon, in the U.S. House of Representatives.