N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 7 8 POTATO GROWER Trade Benefits All The Potato Industry As negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) accelerate, it seems appro- priate that we look at the big picture for international trade and why the National Potato Council spends so much time on the issue. For potato industry members who don’t export, there’s a reasonable question about whether those efforts are a benefit. The answer to that ques- tion is a resounding “yes” based purely on the mathematics for our industry. In the most recent marketing year, exports of all varieties amounted to over 1.7 billion pounds of potatoes. Nearly $350 million of those exports went to Japan, followed by $287 million to Canada and $229 million to Mexico. Absent those foreign sales, the domestic market would have to absorb that volume in some fashion and all industry participants would bear the conse- quences of that increased supply. We also recognize that global com- petition is not static and the U.S. must keep pace. Since the decision to suspend further consideration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the former mem- bers of that agreement have moved forward with separate trade deals absent the U.S. For example, Japan and Singapore have both recently concluded bilateral agreements with Australia that include the potato trade benefits negotiated under TPP. To push back against the increasing competition internationally, the U.S. must remain at the negotiating table to ensure that new trade agree- ments are strong and existing agree- ments are improved where neces- sary. Properly constructed, those trade agreements improve the opportunity for American producers to compete on a more level playing field with foreign producers by reducing tariffs, limiting technical barriers to trade and mandating the mechanisms that will resolve dis- putes. Those exporters’ success clears out supply and hopefully results in increased wholesale prices for producers here at home. Currently only 2% of the world’s consumers reside within the United States, so engagement internation- NPC Mes sage by John Keeling, NPC Executive Vice President and CEO