Negotiations of a free trade agreement (FTA) with Korea will positively impact agriculture as long as biotechnology rules keep market opportunities open for producers, according to the National Corn Growers Association.

While NCGA supports ongoing FTA negotiations, assurances must be made to include regulations affecting food, feed and seed products derived from biotechnology are transparent, science-based and non-discriminatory in addition to more market access for livestock producers.

"We need to know that the biotechnology regulations will not close such an important market to corn producers, but also to livestock producers and other agriculture products," said NCGA President Ken McCauley. "Korea is a very important market for U.S. agriculture and food exports, however, negotiators must ensure that this nation's food and agriculture sectors will truly benefit while ensuring trade is not hampered and all markets for all customers are open."

As a member of the AgBiotech Planning Committee (ABPC) NCGA sent a message to U.S. Trade Representative's Chief Agricultural Negotiator Dick Crowder last week, expressing concern that several proposed Korean regulations related to biotechnology-derived products could seriously inhibit trade.

Specifically, indications are that the Korean government is considering regulations to require that shipments of commodities derived from biotechnology be accompanied by documentation that states the shipment "does contain" a specific list of products by biotech event." In addition the Korean government indicated the language is necessary for compliance with the Biosafety Protocol (BSP).

According to the ABPC, "such onerous documentation goes beyond BSP requirements for trade between parties and non-parties and is more trade restrictive than necessary. No other Party to the BSP requires this type of trait specific documentation."

In its letter to Crowder, the ABPC stated," The United States should seek assurances from Korea that it will not impose requirements that will unnecessarily disrupt the trade of U.S. biotechnology agricultural and food exports. The United States should also insist that clear, written, interpretive guidance be issued to alleviate any uncertainty among exporters regarding the regulation."

Currently the Republic of Korea imports approximately $1 billion of U.S. seed, grain, oilseed and processed food products.

SOURCE: NCGA news release.