WASHINGTON, D.C.- Congressman Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Committee onAgriculture, today praised the recently-announced agricultural trade agreement between the United States and Taiwan, calling the accord an important step toward a fair and mutually-profitable trading regime as Taiwan prepares to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In a February 26 letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Charlene Barshefsky and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Dan Glickman, Smith hailed the Taiwan agreement as a groundbreaking opportunity for America's farmers and ranchers. The complete text of Smith's letter to Barshefsky and Glickman follows this release.
"As you know, trade has been a priority of the House Committee on Agriculture in the 105th Congress. Taiwan's agreement to open its markets to U.S. meat and poultry products, to reduce tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, and to lift its ban on U.S. rice imports, is a critical move that will create new markets and provide U.S. farmers with approximately $36 million worth of new beef, pork, and poultry export opportunities in 1998 alone," Smith wrote Barshefsky and Glickman.
"Both the United States Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture deserve to be commended for their efforts on behalf of America's ranchers and farmers. This agreement marks an important step toward a more free and fair global marketplace for agricultural trade," Smith wrote.
"This is a strong step by the Taiwan government and a good indication of its desire to be an active member of the World Trade Organization," Smith wrote.
On February 23, the USTR and the USDA announced a U.S.-Taiwan Market Access Agreement which immediately opens Taiwan's markets to additional imports of U.S. beef, pork, and poultry products, and which immediately lowers tariff rates on U.S. potato products, pears, grapes, grapefruit, sunflower oil, and soup. The Agreement requires Taiwan to further lower tariffs on beef variety meats, and pork products upon its accession to the WTO. In addition, the Agreement requires Taiwan to eventually lift its ban on U.S. rice imports. Finally, the Agreement requires Taiwan to establish tariff rate quotas for poultry, pork cuts, bellies, spare ribs, and pork variety meats.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District-which includes most of eastern, southern and central Oregon-in the U.S. House of Representatives.