Thursday, May 24, 2012

Newsline: Finally, Free Trade with Colombia

Washington--Better late than never, or so the saying goes, but the long wait for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement to take effect was costly to U.S. agriculture, said Dave Salmonsen, American Farm Bureau Federation trade specialist, in Monday’s Newsline.

With the implementation of the trade pact, tariffs have been eliminated on more than half of the U.S. agricultural goods going into Colombia. Others will be phased out over the next few years. Salmonsen said trade analysts are projecting between $350 million and $370 million annually in new farm and ranch product sales.

Salmonsen said putting the deal into action is important because the United States lost big time market share in the years it took to finalize the agreement. Negotiations started in 2004.

“Over the last four or five years Argentina and then Canada last year also negotiated free trade agreements with Colombia, got rid of the tariffs on their products,” Salmonsen explained. “For wheat, corn and soybeans, at one point in the mid-2000s we had about 75 percent of the Colombian market for those products. Right now we have less than 25 percent of that market because the tariffs were so important. So getting rid of the tariffs will put us in a much better competitive position to try to win back that market share.”

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