The U.S. corn refining industry believes that in order to remain competitive, the U.S. needs to continue to engage in trade pacts covering countries and regions of growing economic significance. Our success, and the success of many other sectors of the economy, relies on demand from the 95 percent of customers who live outside U.S. borders.

Countries bordering the Pacific Ocean have grown by leaps and bounds in recent decades and are set to continue their growth in the future. Rising demand presents new opportunities for U.S. corn refiners, as well as allied farmers and employees — if we can continue to access those markets.

CRA supports new free trade agreements to complement our existing agreements in this region. With just two free trade agreements with Asian countries, Singapore and South Korea, the United States is lagging behind in its economic influence in the region. New agreements will allow our industry to more easily meet the needs of new and current customers by providing a level playing field with reduced tariffs and fairer trade rules.

Many of our competitors, including the European Union (EU), Australia, and Canada are benefitting from preferential trade agreements in Asia at our expense. Finally, the absence of formalized U.S. trade pacts in Asia leaves an opening that China is rapidly moving to fill, one that extends even beyond merely economic influence. U.S. exporters are at risk of falling behind global competitors if we do not quickly negotiate new trade deals to open these markets and help position the U.S. as the most competitive and attractive trading partner.

Major competitors often impose a trade philosophy on potential markets that is in direct conflict with U.S. objectives and international standards, and when they formalize their trade agreements first, we lose the opportunity to influence the trade rules and regulatory approaches that take root in these regions.

The Asia-Pacific region is the world’s largest market for food and agriculture and is expected to grow rapidly in the years ahead. Between 2001 and 2014, Asia grew 261 percent and by nearly $4 trillion in value as an import market. Reducing and eliminating tariffs and other restrictive agricultural policies in this region will help American workers compete, creating an opportunity to supply Asian markets with high-quality food and agricultural goods. Increased access to this market would result in GDP growth and job creation, particularly in rural America.

For example, Japanese tariffs on high fructose corn syrup range from 9 to 50 percent, making this market ripe for growth if tariffs are dropped. A trade deal could also lower tariffs and barriers on meat, beverages, and other varieties of food and agricultural exports. These goods are particularly important to the corn refining industry, as they drive demand for corn products at other points in the supply chain.