WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) on May 4 said it commends the administration’s move forward on technical discussions with the U.S. Congress on the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement draft implementing bill and draft Statement of Administrative Action. The announcement will establish a pathway for formal consideration of all three pending trade agreements, including South Korea and Panama.

“The U.S. Grains Council cannot overstate the importance of these agreements as Colombia, Panama and South Korea are strategic markets with exceptional growth potential for U.S. feed grains and co-products,” said USGC Chairman Terry Vinduska. “We are particularly encouraged by the news on Colombia. This development is conducive to conclusions of other critical trade legislation, including the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act and the Andean Trade Preferences Act. Equally important, it sends a strong signal about the U.S. commitment to a robust trade agenda that enhances our credibility with global trade partners.”

Colombia has traditionally been the U.S.’ fifth-largest market for coarse grains exports, with more than 80% market share. That position has eroded almost 70% in the last three years due to preferential tariffs enjoyed by Brazil and Argentina through the Mercosur agreement. This decline has occurred despite the closer proximity of the U.S. and its freight transportation advantage.

“Ratification of the U.S.-Colombia agreement will eliminate the tariff constraints and price band system that has eroded the competitiveness of U.S. agricultural exports of corn and other feed grains. It will level the playing field to recover and grow this important market,” said Vinduska.

The USGC has worked closely with the Colombian feed, livestock and poultry industries to build capacity and increase efficiency to utilize U.S. coarse grain products.

“Ratification of the agreement will solidify the Council’s ongoing efforts to enhance Colombia’s ability to meet the needs of their growing middle class and supply high-quality protein products at low cost to their consumers,” said Kurt Shultz, USGC Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Region.