The following statement is from Randy Hardy, Vice President of Trade Affairs for the National Potato Council (NPC) and owner of Hardy Farms, a potato growing operation in Oakley, Idaho, on the transmission by the Obama Administration of the pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to Congress for a vote:
"As a committed supporter of liberalized and fair trade with all foreign markets, NPC is pleased the White House has submitted the South Korea, Colombia and Panama to Congress. The strength of the U.S. potato industry is heavily dependent on exports, and these markets represent some of the strongest export opportunities for the industry. NPC urges Congress to quickly finalize these trade agreements in order to level the playing field for U.S. producers, jump start our national economy, and stimulate job growth in rural America."
In 2009, U.S. potato growers produced more than 43 billion pounds of potatoes at a farm-gate value of $3.5 billion. An average of fifteen percent of the crop is exported yearly. Exports for 2010 were valued at $1.25 billion, a 6 percent increase over 2009.
SOUTH KOREA BY THE NUMBERS
COLOMBIA BY THE NUMBERS
- Korea is the fourth largest and fastest-growing market for U.S. frozen potatoes.
- In 2010, U.S. frozen French fry exports to Korea grew by 31 percent in both volume and value over the previous year.
- U.S. frozen French fry exports to Korea grew from $35 million in 2009 to $46 million in 2010.
- Passage of the Korea FTA will result in the immediate elimination of the 18 percent tariff on U.S. frozen potatoes.
- The EU's Free Trade Agreement with Korea eliminated tariffs on frozen French fries and took effect on July 1, 2011.
- Conservative estimates show that U.S. potato exports to Korea could increase by $35 million annually following successful passage of the Korea FTA.
PANAMA BY THE NUMBERS
- Passage of the Colombia FTA will result in the immediate elimination of the 20 percent tariffs on U.S. frozen and dehydrated potatoes, and potato chips.
- A similar trade agreement between Canada and Colombia took effect on August 15, 2011.
- U.S. frozen French fry exports to Colombia grew from $1.8 million in 2009 to $2.3 million in 2010, an increase of 32 percent.
- The Colombian market for U.S. frozen potatoes is estimated to be $5-10 million per year following passage of the Colombia FTA.
- In 2010, U.S. frozen French fry exports to Panama grew by 77 percent in value and 93 percent in volume from 2009.
- U.S. frozen French fry exports to Panama grew from $2.9 million in 2009 to $5.2 million in 2010.
- Passage of the Panama FTA will result in the phased five-year elimination of the existing 20 percent tariff on US frozen potato exports.
- Conservative estimates show that passage of the Panama FTA will result in a $10 million market for U.S. frozen potato exports.
- Growth in U.S. frozen potato exports to Panama is fueled largely by quick service restaurants (QSRs).
Source: National Potato Council