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Congress Passes Long-Awaited Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama

Thursday, October 13, 2011

(American Meat Institute)

Congress has passed three long-stalled trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the initiatives into law in the coming days.

Votes were cast late Wednesday. The House of Representatives voted 262 to 167 for Colombia, 300 to 129 for Panama and 278 to 151 for South Korea. The Senate voted 66 to 33 for Colombia, 77 to 22 for Panama and 83 to 15 for South Korea.

“Congress’ passage (Wednesday) of long-stalled free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Panama and Colombia is a major victory for America’s agricultural sector, our meat and poultry industry and our economy,” said AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle. “AMI is grateful that our leaders in Washington have come to a consensus that will finally allow American agriculture the opportunity to compete fairly in these highly sought after global markets.”

AMI has long pushed for the passage of these agreements. An impact study coordinated by AMI found that passage and full implementation of the Korean, Colombian and Panamanian FTAs would represent an additional $2.3 billion in exports and create approximately 29,500 badly needed jobs here at home. Many of these jobs are in rural areas of the U.S. where prospects of true economic development are seldom presented.

“AMI is grateful to our trade negotiators for their work, and to Congress for their swift action and bipartisan cooperation, on making these ‘pending’ trade agreements a reality,” Boyle said.

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