Cargill CEO Pushes for South Korea Free Trade Agmt.

Cargill is invested in numerous U.S. businesses that export directly to South Korea, and the trade agreement awaiting ratification "is critical from both an economic and agricultural industry standpoint," according to Cargill Chairman and CEO Greg Page.

Cargill, Inc., is pushing for the passage of the pending free trade agreement with South Korea-which serves as an important market for the Wayzata-based giant.

“Cargill has enjoyed a rich history of doing business in Korea and we see our relationship with South Korea as critical from both an economic and agricultural industry standpoint,” Cargill Chairman and CEO Greg Page said in a statement. “We encourage Congress to act now and pass this important agreement.”

The United States' free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia are awaiting ratification from Congress.

On Tuesday, Cargill hosted an employee forum and a business roundtable discussion on the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement that's pending approval. Leaders from General Mills, Land O'Lakes, The Mosaic Company, Ecolab, and Red Wing Shoes participated in the roundtable discussion. U.S. Congressman Erik Paulsen and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Mark Phillips also were in attendance at the meetings, which were part of a U.S. Chamber of Commerce visit to the Twin Cities.

Cargill is invested in numerous U.S. businesses that export directly to South Korea, including Cargill Meat Solutions and its grain and oilseed supply chain unit. Cargill Animal Nutrition also has a significant presence in South Korea.

According to Cargill, the South Korea free trade agreement would “stimulate greater demand for the products of those businesses and allow for fair competition with other countries.”

In a Tuesday column in the Star Tribune, Page pointed out that South Korea has been aggressive in negotiating agreements with the European Union, Australia, and Canada, among other geographic jurisdictions. If other countries gain access to markets in South Korea, Panama, and/or Columbia through trade agreements, he argues, U.S. farmers, ranchers, workers, businesses, and communities will be at a disadvantage.

Page said in the column that the delay in getting the free trade agreements approved is the result of politicians sorting out “the political calculus and possible impact of these three agreements on 2012 reelection chances,” adding, “In my mind, elections should be the product of decision making, not its purpose-especially when the future local farmers and the nation's economy are at stake.”

Page said that as the U.S. and global economies continue to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, “it is irresponsible to accept the status quo on trade.”

For specific details on the pending free trade agreement with South Korea, click here.

Cargill provides food, agricultural, financial, and industrial products and services internationally. It is Minnesota's largest company based on revenue, which totaled $107.9 billion in fiscal 2010.