Statement of
Audrae Erickson, Corn Refiners Association
Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-Peru Trade Press Conference
September 27, 2007

The U.S. food and agribusiness sector has been standing on the sidelines of an important skirmish that is taking place in the Western Hemisphere.  Our team is not the first string, or even the second string – we more closely resemble benchwarmers.  And what is the game we so longingly want to play in?

The race to compete in our own backyard.

Congress has an opportunity to even the score for the U.S. food and agribusiness sector by voting in favor of the trade deal with Peru and closely following suit with Panama, Colombia and finally Korea.

The rules of the game have been decided.  The referee has blown the whistle.  Our team is suited up, but our opponents have the upper hand because we have not been cleared for play.

And what is at stake in this game?

For those of us that process commodities, we see an opportunity for double gains.  Our corn gluten meal & feed, corn starch and oil, and sweetener exports will soon face no tariffs in Peru, Panama, Colombia and later Korea.  Soybean meal, wheat flour and others have similar stories to tell.  We benefit from increased exports of our products to these markets in the first instance.  Then, when our value added exports of meat, dairy and processed food products grow –we sell more feed and food ingredients here at home.

The economic gains from the Peru agreement present a win-win for our two countries and for the region.  The trade accord with Peru is a stepping stone to the Western Hemisphere that we hope to build on with ratified agreements with Panama and Colombia.  Rest assured that our competitors are already there and that Asian powerhouses are working now to strike deals in this region for their food and agricultural sectors.

And so we are asking Congress to vote on the winning team by passing the Peru agreement and soon Panama, Colombia and Korea.  We want the opportunity to see meaningful two-way trade with these countries.  We will perform well in these markets.

But first, Congress needs to let us get into the game.