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US-Columbia trade deal will boost agricultural exports
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In the last Agbiz article, I talked about how the deepening of the port of Savannah would improve our ability to move products grown and made in the United States, specifically the poultry products produced in North Georgia.

Now it is reported that the products and commodities produced in the United States will be more competitive with other countries wanting to do business with Colombia.

The specifics of the agreement are discussed later in the article, but basically agricultural equipment and commodities, such as poultry, will be duty-free beginning May 15. This certainly could open up the door for many of our poultry processors and poultry equipment manufacturers in Hall County.

The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement will take effect May 15. This announcement follows completion of work by the U.S. and Colombia to review each other’s laws and regulations related to the agreement, as well as Colombia’s steps to fulfill the Action Plan Related to Labor Rights.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said, “This agreement will provide American businesses, farmers and ranchers with significantly improved access to the third largest economy in South America.”

He explained that the value of the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement will begin to be seen in lower tariffs on autos, consumer goods, agricultural commodities, machinery and other exports from the U.S., which will make U.S. goods more competitive in the Colombian market.

On May 15, more than 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia will become duty-free, with the remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years. These include agricultural and construction equipment, building products, aircraft and parts, fertilizers, information technology equipment, medical scientific equipment and wood.

Also, more than half of U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Colombia will become duty-free, including wheat, barley, soybeans, high-quality beef, bacon and almost all fruit and vegetable products.

More than half of current U.S. farm exports to Colombia will become duty-free immediately and virtually all remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 15 years. The agreement also provides duty-free tariff rate quotas on standard beef, chicken leg quarters, dairy products, corn, sorghum, animal feeds, rice and soybean oil.

The agreement also will provide significant new access to Colombia’s $180 billion services market, supporting increased opportunities for U.S. service providers.

U.S. goods exports to Colombia in 2011 were $14.3 billion. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates the agreement will expand exports of U.S. goods alone by more than $1.1 billion and will lead to an increase in U.S. Gross Domestic Product of $2.5 billion.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears biweekly on Thursday’s Business page and at gainesvilletimes.com.

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