Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement is finally back on the front burner. The Senator was pleased when the Obama Administration announced they had resolved their concerns with the trade deal and turned a corner on their negotiations with the country. Currently Grassley says trade with Colombia is a one-way street.
"Tariffs on some U.S. soybean exports to Colombia can be as high as 150%; tariffs can be as high as 195% on some corn products," Grassley said. "Under the trade agreement Colombia's tariffs on agriculture products will either go to zero immediately or begin to phase out over the next few years."
According to Grassley, a Senate Finance Committee hearing this week will help outline the agreement and move the process forward. He says it's vital that the Administration move ahead with submitting the deal to Congress. Grassley says then Congress needs to approve the Colombia trade agreement as soon as possible. He says swift approval is important for U.S. agriculture, as the delay in approval has already had severe consequences.
"While this trade agreement has been in limbo for the last four years, Colombia implemented trade agreements with other countries and U.S. farmers lost part of their market share," Grassley said. "According to USDA between 2008-2009 there was an almost 50% drop in U.S. agriculture exports to Colombia. It's time for ag producers across the country to have these better markets and the access to them so that we can export our crops and livestock to Colombia."
Once the implementing legislation is drafted, completed and submitted to Congress - Congress has 90 days to hold an up or down vote.