WASHINGTON, May 15, 2012–Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement about the U.S-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, or Colombia TPA, which enters into force today.
"Beginning today, U.S. agricultural exporters receive duty-free access on more than half of the products we currently export to Colombia, and virtually all remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 15 years. Estimates show that the tariff reductions in the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement will expand total U.S. exports by more than $1.1 billion, supporting thousands of additional American jobs while increasing U.S. GDP by $2.5 billion. For agriculture, the agreement with South America's third-largest economy achieves two key trade objectives for the United States: it immediately provides vastly improved access to Colombia's market, and it levels the playing field with respect to third-country competitors.
"Last year, the United States exported $1.1 billion of agricultural products to Colombia. Under the agreement, American farmers and ranchers can expect to see their exports grow by more than $370 million, or more than one-third of the current total. Colombia will immediately eliminate duties on wheat, barley, soybeans, soybean meal and flour, high-quality beef, bacon, almost all fruit and vegetable products, wheat, peanuts, whey, cotton, and the vast majority of processed products. The Colombia TPA also provides duty free tariff rate quotas (TRQ) on standard beef, chicken leg quarters, dairy products, corn, sorghum, animal feeds, rice, and soybean oil. Over the next few years, as additional barriers fall and more U.S. businesses market products to Colombia's expanding economy, American agricultural exports will create new opportunities for our businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers, thereby supporting more and better jobs for Americans.
"For America's farmers, ranchers, and agricultural businesses, the timing could not be better. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its best periods in history thanks to the productivity and resourcefulness of American farmers and agribusinesses. Much of the record growth these past few years is related to President Obama's leadership on trade. Last year, the President insisted that we get this agreement with Colombia right—alongside pacts with South Korea and Panama—that led to strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. In 2010, the President committed to double U.S. exports in five years. Two years later, we are on pace to meet that goal.
"Strengthening our partnership with growing markets in South America is integral to the strength of the U.S. economy in the decades ahead. Increased exports mean higher incomes for farmers and ranchers, more opportunities for small businesses owners, and jobs for people in rural communities and port cities—the people who grow, package, ship and market American agricultural products."
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