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Free trade agreement with Colombia 'levels the playing field'

Negotiators from the US and Colombia yesterday concluded free trade agreement discussions, resulting in new export opportunities for US farmers and ranchers.

Colombia is the second largest agricultural market in Latin America, accounting for $677 million in sales of wheat, coarse grains, cotton, soybeans and other commodities. "As many products from Colombia already enter the US duty-free under the Andean Trade Preference Act, this agreement will help to level the playing field for our producers by eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers for US agricultural products, said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

Under the agreement, US farm exports to Colombia, including beef, cotton, wheat, soybeans, soybean meal, apples, pears, peaches, cherries, and many processed foods, will receive immediate duty-free treatment. Other farm products like pork, corn, poultry, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products will benefit from improved market access, according to Johanns.

"Opening the Colombian market and increasing our two-way trade will strengthen our economic ties and also promote increased stability that will benefit all the nations of the Western Hemisphere," Johanns said. "I look forward to working with Ambassador Portman and Congress to secure passage of this landmark agreement."

Negotiators from the US and Colombia yesterday concluded free trade agreement discussions, resulting in new export opportunities for US farmers and ranchers.

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