Farmers losing exports in Colombian free trade delay

January 31, 2011 12:42

As recently as 2008, U.S. farmers sold 80% of all farm imports in Colombia. That share fell to 41% last year and is expected to slump to 30% once Canada’s treaty kicks in.

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To take just one example, at this moment a freight train is set to hit American agricultural producers, who export half or more of their wheat, cattle and other crops just to stay in business. Canada is set to enact its free trade treaty with Colombia in about two months, cutting tariffs to zero. American farmers will be stuck paying anywhere from 8% to 120% tariffs to sell the exact same goods. Their 2008 sales to Colombia came to $1.67 billion. With a playing field like what’s coming, they can kiss their largest South American market goodbye.

“Our free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama were signed more than three and a half years ago, so it’s extremely disappointing the president did not lay out a timeline for submitting them to Congress,” Baucus said. “The delay has been costly for our ranchers, farmers and businesses, who are losing business to competitors from countries that have negotiated their own trade agreements with these fast-growing markets.”


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