In what is seen as a positive development for the future of US dairy exports, President Barack Obama has announced an agreement with Colombia on an action plan to resolve outstanding issues that will clear the way for the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement to gain official approval from Congress.
The agreement with Colombia was signed in 2006 under the Bush administration, but Congress has yet to vote on it. Until now, the Obama administration has refused to push for its approval, citing outstanding issues involving Colombian labour rights.
Following the announcement, IDFA Association senior group vice president Clay Hough said: “IDFA considers the agreement to be a positive sign that the administration is committed to promoting the sound trade policy agenda that’s needed if the US is going to double exports by 2015, as outlined in President Obama’s National Export Initiative.”
The value of US dairy exports to Colombia last year was $6m. The estimated benefit to the US dairy industry over the first several years of an implemented agreement with Colombia would be an additional $25m in exports per year.
Once implemented, the US-Colombia agreement is expected to boost US dairy exports through immediate open and unlimited access for most whey and lactose products, as well as duty-free access for sizeable amounts of cheese and skim milk powder (among other dairy products). The US will achieve additional dairy market access in Colombia as tariffs are ultimately phased out completely.
The agreement has to be officially submitted to Congress and ratified for it to take effect.
IDFA has strongly supported passage of this free trade agreement, along with the pending agreements with Korea and Panama and urges the administration and legislators to make passage of all three outstanding free trade agreements a top priority.
Source: International Dairy Foods Association
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