Analysis shows Nebraska wins "gold" with Korean trade deal
The Winter Olympics have come to a close, but Nebraska brings home the gold from South Korea all year long.
“We knew it's a growing market, but I was a bit surprised how important it is,” said Jay Rempe, senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau.
Rempe did an analysis, showing South Korea is the fifth largest customer for Nebraska ag products, and part of a critical region.
“There's two things that are major factors in demand for food. One is population growth and one is income growth. And those areas, eastern Asia has 'em both,” he said.
President Donald Trump wants to renegotiate the Korean free trade deal known as KORUS, saying it’s a “horrible” deal.
In the words of Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, “President Trump continues to keep his promises to lower our trade deficit and negotiate better trade deals for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.”
The president says trade with Korea is out of balance, and he says trade deals like this have cost American jobs.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) says KORUS has been good for agriculture.
“Korea has been a prime example of how trade really works,” said Kent Bacus, director of international trade for NCBA.
Bacus says U.S. beef faced a 40 percent tariff that’s being phased out over 10 years.
He said, “We've become the primary import source of beef into Korea, for the U.S. producer that means $1 billion and growing.”
Not only do farm groups not want to lose the deal, they want to expand on this success.
Bacus said, “We can't hedge all of our futures on the Korean market. We need to make the same inroads in Japan, China, and the rest of the Asian continent.”
Rempe’s analysis for Nebraska Farm Bureau shows it likely means millions for Custer, Dawson, and Lincoln counties, with an impact that stretches across the state.
“We want to reinforce that notion that agriculture relies heavily on trade and we need to continue to do what we can to expand those markets,” he said.
The president likes to point out the U.S. trade deficits. Those are countries were Americans buy more than the country exports.
But farm groups point out the U.S. exports far more agricultural products than it imports, so it's a good place to help balance trade if that’s the president’s goal