The state's corn marketing group is supportive of a newly-implemented global free trade agreement that can promote fair and open trade policies. Along with the National Corn Growers Association, the Kansas Corn Commission was pleased to see the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement went into effect on Oct. 31.
The free trade agreement, passed by Congress one year ago, can offer opportunities to increase the American farmer's ability to participate in a growing global marketplace. Panama is one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America and is an essential piece to help advance free trade within the Western hemisphere.
Upon implementation of the free trade agreement, more than 86-percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial goods to Panama immediately became duty-free. Nearly half of the tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports became zero upon implementation, including those on wheat, barley, soybeans and high-quality beef. The majority of the remaining products will have tariffs eliminated within 15 years.
"The U.S. corn industry has traditionally been the sole supplier to this market with the poultry sector as the dominant end-user of feed grains," Kansas Corn Commissioner Terry Vinduska, Marion, said.
Vinduska, who recently completed a term as U.S. Grains Council chairman also said the implementation of the partnership ensures U.S. corn, sorghum, barley and co-products can continue to be competitive in this fast-growing market. The Kansas Corn Commission supports the foreign market development efforts of the US Grains Council.
Panama is already an important market for U.S. farmers and agribusinesses. In 2011, the U.S exported nearly $505 million of agricultural products to Panama. Top U.S. exports were corn, wheat, soybean cake and meal, dairy products, poultry meat, and rice.
Import demand for corn in Panama has risen sharply over the last five years. The Panama free trade agreement will also accelerate the U.S. Grain Council's ability to promote feed grain co-products and value-enhanced grains. In addition, promoting the use of corn co-products will provide cost savings to feed millers and as a result create more demand for U.S. corn.