It’s taken over four years to get to this point, but some action is finally happening on the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) and U.S. agriculture interests are thrilled.
President Obama announced today that an agreement has been reached on the deal that was signed by the U.S. Trade Representative and the Colombian trade minister on Nov. 22, 2006. The agreement will now be sent to Congress to ratify. It is estimated that the Colombia agreement could mean U.S. agricultural export gains of more than $815 million per year at full implementation.
According to a USDA Fact Sheet, a variety of agricultural commodities would benefit from the Agreement, as more than half of current U.S. farm exports to Colombia will become duty-free immediately, and virtually all remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 15 years. “Colombia will immediately eliminate duties on wheat, barley, soybeans, soybean meal and flour, high-quality beef, bacon, almost all fruit and vegetable products, wheat, peanuts, whey, cotton, and the vast majority of processed products. The Agreement also provides duty free tariff rate quotas (TRQ) on standard beef, chicken leg quarters, dairy products, corn, sorghum, animal feeds, rice, and soybean oil.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Bill Donald said it’s essential for the U.S. to take aggressive measures to expand market access for agriculture to stimulate the economy and feed a growing global population. “The cattle industry can breathe a sigh of relief today as the Colombia agreement finally gets the long overdue attention it deserves,” said Donald. “This agreement has collected dust for well over four years while our trade competitors proactively sign, seal and deliver trade pacts.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says the development is just what a group of Farm Bureau leaders has been pushing for the last two weeks during a visit to Colombia and Panama. “After meetings this week and last with farmers, ranchers and agricultural leaders from Colombia, we know this is a development welcomed by all sides. Trade will help the United States build stronger bonds with our Latin American neighbors, and it makes sense given our advantage of proximity and history of cooperation.”
The National Corn Growers Association says the Colombia FTA would provide immediate access for U.S. corn growers to Colombia’s roughly 2.1 million metric ton market for corn at zero percent duty. “Colombia has traditionally been one of the Top 10 export markets for U.S. corn,” NCGA President Bart Schott said. “This is an important market for U.S. farmers and we do not want to watch this market slip away to our largest competitors.”
National Pork Producers Council President Doug Wolf says the agreement will increase U.S. pork exports to the South American country by $68.9 million and help create 919 U.S. pork industry jobs. “We must implement our pending FTAs to remain competitive,” Wolf said. “Pork producers also support the Korea and Panama FTAs and urge the administration to send them to Congress to be approved by this summer.”