The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Canadian-Colombian trade agreement goes into force

As the Canadian-Colombian free trade agreement entered into force today, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Senate Finance ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, urged passage of the U.S.-Colombian free trade agreement, but emphasized different points.

The Colombian Embassy in Washington sent out a news release noting the potential of the Canadian agreement, but included a report from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service that noted a major Colombian importer had announced it would source wheat from Canada because the end of the tariff on Canadian wheat would make it cheaper than U.S. wheat.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced recently that they have reached a bipartisan agreement on moving the Colombian, Korean and Panamanian agreements forward, along with trade adjustment assistance for workers and farmers who have lost employment due to trade.

Some Republicans have opposed TAA while some Democrats have opposed the Colombian agreement over labor issues. Action on the trade measures is expected in September.

“Canada’s trade agreement with Colombia gives our competitors a leg up and shows the importance of coming together quickly to pass America's pending trade agreements and trade adjustment assistance,” Baucus said.

“Every day our trade deal with Colombia languishes is a day U.S. ranchers and farmers can fall behind in this lucrative market, which is why we’ve been fighting so hard to pass the Colombia free trade agreement,” Baucus said. “Approving our trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea in tandem with trade adjustment assistance will increase exports by $13 billion for ranchers, farmers and businesses in Montana and across the country and create jobs here at home — and that’s why we cannot afford further delay.”

Hatch did not mention TAA, but noted that President Barack Obama has not yet submitted the agreements to Congress for ratification.

“While Canada’s trade agreement with Colombia goes into force today, American exporters are put at a competitive disadvantage because the Obama administration has yet to submit our own trade pact to Congress for a vote,” Hatch said.

“Our bilateral accord with Colombia, which was signed years ago, would spur new job growth and shore up a vital regional alliance,” Hatch said. “There is no reason for continued delay and it is past time the president submit our pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea to Congress. The longer this administration delays the further our economy falls behind. ”

05/04/2011 – USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Global Information Network: U.S. Loses Largest Food Company's Wheat Business
Colombian Embassy – US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement