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Farm coalition urges caution on extending trade preferences to African nations.

A coalition of U.S. farm groups led by the National Pork Producers Council is urging Congress not to extend preferential trade treatment to African nations unless they commit to dropping import barriers to U.S. products.

In a letter to Congress, the coalition stated its "strong opposition" to a long-term or permanent extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which expires in 2015.

A number of African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, have non-tariff trade barriers to U.S. goods, most of which violate WTO trade rules, according to the NPPC.

In extending the AGOA, the coalition is urging lawmakers to require, at a minimum, that beneficiary countries "refrain from erecting blatantly protectionist and WTO-incompatible barriers to our products."

In a separate letter, the coalition calls on Congress to establish criteria for revoking a country's tariff-free access under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) if it fails to give U.S. products "treatment consistent with international trade rules." GSP offers tariff-free treatment on many products from developing countries. Last year, 130 nations received such benefits on about 5,000 products shipped to the United States.

In its letter, the coalition claimed that "barriers to U.S. exports in GSP beneficiary countries are widespread and are often in flagrant violation of international obligations.

"The fact that these countries may maintain these restrictions on U.S. goods while benefitting from unilateral preferential treatment for their products in the U.S. market--and with little apparent concern about losing those tariff benefits--is clearly inconsistent with the intent of Congress, and we believe this must change," the coalition concluded.

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Publication:The Food & Fiber Letter
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Nov 25, 2013
Words:270
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