Wednesday, November 30, 2022

US Senate Holdout Backs Korea Trade Pact


WASHINGTON — A key holdout in the US Senate said Wednesday he would support a free trade agreement with South Korea after President Barack Obama’s administration promised to promote beef exports.

Senator Max Baucus, who represents the ranching state of Montana and heads the Senate Finance Committee, has pushed for South Korea to remove restrictions that limit imports of US beef from cattle slaughtered at under 30 months.

“Our long fight for strong, science-based trade rules around the world to open foreign markets for American ranchers — and keep them open — took big steps forward today,” said Baucus, a member of Obama’s Democratic Party.

“Working with the administration, we delivered,” he said in a statement, which said Baucus would support the South Korea free trade agreement and work on separate pending deals with Colombia and Panama.

Baucus offered support after the Department of Agriculture said it would commit at least $1 million to a five-year, $10 million campaign by the US Meat Export Federation to promote US beef in South Korea.

Beef is a politically charged issue in South Korea, where major protests erupted in 2008 against President Lee Myung-Bak’s acceptance of US beef. South Korea was once the third-biggest market for US beef but demand collapsed after mad cow disease was discovered in the United States in 2003.

Originally reached in 2007, the free trade agreement would eliminate most tariffs between the two countries within five years. The Obama administration renegotiated the deal to give more leeway for US automakers, winning over a number of Democrats who had feared the pact would cost manufacturing jobs.

A number of labor-friendly Democrats remain opposed, but the administration had felt confident at winning over most key powerbrokers in Congress.

Lawmakers of the rival Republican Party broadly support the trade agreement, although they want to take action only once the pacts with Colombia and Panama are finalized.

Source:  AFP

Posted by Haylie Shipp



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