The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its 32,000 farmer members welcomed news of the long-awaited Senate vote in favor of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for China.

"This vote brings American agriculture one step closer to being able to capitalize on the opportunities that will be created by China's admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO)," said NCGA President Lynn Jensen, Lake Preston, SD.

Under the groundbreaking WTO accession agreement negotiated last year, China consented to eliminate export subsidies and significantly improve market access for a wide variety of U.S. food and agriculture products. In return, the United States agreed to grant China PNTR status.

"Quite simply, this is a great one-way deal for U.S. agriculture. We gain access to the largest market in the world--and we give up nothing in return," Jensen said.

As part of the accession agreement, China has committed to establish a tariff rate quota (TRQ) for corn. In its first year of WTO membership, China has agreed to allow access for 4.5 million metric tons (177 million bushels) of corn. That level is set to increase to 7.2 million metric tons (283 million bushels) by the fourth year.

"This will give U.S. farmers the opportunity to build markets, rather than wait for China to let U.S. corn in," Jensen explained.

"But perhaps the most exciting provision is China's commitment to eliminate export subsidies," he said. "In recent years, China has increased its corn production in response to high domestic support prices and has exported the resulting surpluses at the expense of U.S. corn farmers. If China no longer subsidizes its exports, U.S. corn will be very competitive in markets that have been buying subsidized Chinese corn," he said.

"The nation's corn growers are gratified that both chambers of Congress now have voted to give us open access to the all-important Chinese market, rather than pandering to the protectionists who refuse to recognize that we operate in a global economy," Jensen concluded.

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