United States, Colombia Conclude FTA Talks

Select farm exports will receive immediate duty-free treatment. Jacqui Fatka

Published on: Feb 27, 2006

After back-to-back nights of burning the midnight oil over the weekend, trade negotiators from the United States and Colombia concluded Colombia Free Trade Agreement talks early Monday morning.

The final version gives immediate duty-free treatment to high quality beef, cotton, wheat, soybeans, soybean meal, key fruits and vegetables including apples, pears, peaches and cherries along with many processed food products including frozen French fries and cookies.

The U.S. Trade Representative reports that the following U.S. farm products will benefit from improved market access: pork, beef, corn, poultry, rice, fruits and vegetables, processed products and dairy products.

Rice is the most sensitive product for Colombia and has a tariff phase-out period of 19 years. The U.S. sugar industry was protected in the agreement, reports USTR.

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab expects Congress to take up the agreement this fall, potentially after the November elections. U.S. and Colombian officials will spend the next few weeks reviewing their agreement, and then a notice of intention to sign starts a 90-day clock, after which the agreement can be signed.

The Colombia agreement is part of a broader Andean Free Trade Agreement. An agreement with Peru is expected to be approved this summer. An Ecuador FTA is possible in the upcoming months also.

In 2005, Colombia and the United States had $14.3 billion in two-way trade, and Colombia is currently the second largest agricultural market for the United States in Latin America.