June 03,2003

Grassley Praises Signing of U.S-Chile Free Trade Agreement

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, todaypraised the signing of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement and said he will work toward Senateconsideration of the agreement as soon as possible.

“Free trade with Chile will create a valuable new market for American farmers and workers,” Grassley said. “Chile will benefit from greater access to U.S. goods, and we’ll benefit from the newopportunities created by the increased demand for our products. This agreement will give ouragricultural producers an added boost and Chilean consumers other choices.”

The signing of the agreement comes days after Chile announced, at the strong urging ofGrassley and others, that it will recognize the equivalency of the U.S. meat inspection system startingimmediately and abandon a technically limiting system. Grassley said he considered the resolutionof this issue critical to moving forward on the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement.

Grassley said the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement also will give U.S. exporters the sameor better access to Chile’s 15 million consumers that Canada and the European Union already enjoythrough their trade agreements with Chile. When the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement is finalized,Chile’s tariffs will be eliminated immediately on U.S. pork and pork products, beef offal, durumwheat, barley, barley malt, sorghum, soybeans and soybean meal, pasta, breakfast cereals, cerealpreparations, and sunflower seeds. Chile will fully liberalize corn trade in two years.

Under the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, U.S. pork products will gain parity with theEU’s pork products, creating the opportunity to capture greater market share and develop the Chileanmarket for future growth. Both governments also agreed to immediately recognize each other’s beefgrading systems, making it possible for U.S. Department of Agriculture to certify beef products forexport to Chile. Access for beef on both sides will be completely liberalized over four years. Chileimported 85,000 tons of beef valued at $153 million in 2001, making it the world’s ninth-largest beefimporter. But virtually all of Chile’s beef imports now come from its South American neighbors.

Grassley said the signing of the Chile agreement follows by one month the Bushadministration’s signing of a free trade agreement with Singapore. They are the United States’ firstfree-trade agreements with a South American nation and a Southeast Asian nation. The tradeagreements will be the first to be considered since Congress granted the President trade-promotionauthority last August. Grassley advanced trade promotion authority as a leader of the FinanceCommittee, which has jurisdiction over trade. Under trade promotion authority, the Presidentnegotiates trade agreements and then submits them to Congress for a vote.

Grassley said he hopes to schedule a Finance Committee hearing on the Chile and Singapore free trade agreements later this month.

Grassley said he was pleased to see the Bush administration taking aggressive steps to opennew markets for American farmers and workers. In addition to Chile and Singapore, the Bush administration is formally working on bilateral trade agreements with many countries around the world.

“Without trade promotion authority, the United States fell behind on trade,” Grassley said.“Now we’re back at the negotiating table. We’re knocking down unfair barriers to our products soU.S. companies can compete on a level playing field around the world. And, when U.S. exportsgrow, our economy grows. All of this means new opportunities for American farmers and workers.”