U.S. TRADE PACTS WITH PANAMA AND COLOMBIA BEGIN TO YIELD BENEFITS

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(Posted Fri. Mar 8th, 2013)

Mar. 8: Implementations of U.S. free trade agreements in Latin America contributed to an increase of U.S. exports to the region by 9.3 percent in 2012, lowering the U.S. trade deficit by 24.7 percent, according to an article in Latinvex, a Latin American business journal. Currently, the 11 Latin American countries involved in the two regional and three bilateral FTAs with the United States account for nearly 80 percent of the country’s trade with this region.

“The National Corn Growers Association has a long history of promoting export growth by working collaboratively with the U.S. Grains Council,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman, a corn farmer from Wisconsin. “On our end, we continually work to promote the trade policies that open markets for U.S. corn exports and support the strong agricultural exports which help our overall economy reduce its trade deficits. USGC makes the most of these opportunities by fostering export growth abroad. Here, we see again how effective this approach can be.”

Since implementation of the FTAs last year, U.S. exports to Colombia and Panama increased by 14.5 and 20.3 percent respectively. Now, these nations are the fifth and sixth largest in the region for U.S. export growth.

"With the Andian Price Band System set to be adjusted in April 2013, there is an opportunity for U.S. corn to return to the Colombian market," said Kurt Shultz, USGC regional director in Panama. "This assumes the cost, insurance and freight price of U.S. and South American corn will continue to decline, allowing it to fall into the price band mechanism."

If prices do decline, U.S. corn will have a 5.75 percent duty advantage over South American corn, allowing U.S. corn to benefit from the recently signed agreement.

"While U.S. corn exports to Colombia are currently low, U.S. producers and exporters should remain optimistic,” Shultz explained. “The FTA has created a long-term advantage for U.S. corn imports and the future could bring rapid growth in the U.S. corn market share in Colombia."