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Noem backs Asian trade pact

A trade agreement that would include major Asian countries such as China and Japan would likely be a boost to South Dakota's agriculture economy, said Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.

"Trade is essential to expanding economic opportunities. South Dakota exports about $3 billion worth of agriculture exports each year; it impacts about 20,000 jobs in the state," Noem told reporters Thursday. "The United States is now working on a new trade partnership with this region, the TransPacific Partnership. I am extremely supportive of this agreement as long as we protect U.S. agriculture markets."

Noem noted that with existing trade barriers, China already is the largest purchaser of soybeans from the United States and Japan ranks third. Japan is the top importer of U.S. feed grains and corn.

On her recent trip to Japan, South Korea and China Noem talked with American officials who have been negotiating the deal, she said.

"While I was there I made it very clear that market access for the United States agriculture industry is to be a priority," she said. "It's important to ensure that South Dakota and the rest of the country can benefit from free trade with this important and growing region. We need to be sure we give those negotiating these agreements the tools they need to get the job done."

Asia is a densely populated region that needs U.S. food exports, Noem said.

"China alone has 1.3 billion people that need food. They need beef, they need our commodities. We are more than willing to give them the safest and affordable food supply that will help our economy grow as well."