Colombia’s Ambassador to the United States Gabriel Silva presented to a standing-room crowd on Tuesday at the NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates Joint International Trade Policy Committee meeting, emphasizing the importance of quick passage of a pending free trade agreement with that country.
Describing his country’s economic growth and need for agricultural goods in detail, he showed charts indicating Colombia is one of the most important markets for U.S. agricultural products, more so even than India or China.
He told growers that in 2008, Colombia was the 15th largest market for U.S. agricultural products and the eight largest market for U.S. corn, wheat, soybeans and their products. Silva reminded growers his country grows virtually no wheat, importing 97 percent of its need.
He also described the recent precipitous decline in the market share U.S. agricultural goods hold in Colombia, falling from 46.5 percent in 2008 to 20.6 percent in 2010, while Canada’s market share rose slightly and Argentina’s raced from 13.8 percent to 29.6 percent.
Even while joking he doesn’t like to give advice because of what could happen if it’s taken, he told growers that he believes there is still time to get the U.S.-Colombia agreement done.
“We have a few months, no more than that,” he said.
NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates have pushed for years for consideration of the agreement, which could prevent the loss of up to $100 million in sales of wheat per year and allow increased market share in a country that is growing in affluence and influence.
The importance of finalizing the U.S. agreement, which was signed more than four years ago, has been highlighted by Canada’s efforts to quickly complete its own FTA, which would accelerate the decline of U.S. market share there.
For more about the importance of this market to U.S. growers, please visit www.wheatworld.org/trade.
Silva’s full presentation is available directly at http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/trade-colombian-ambassador-joint-trade-meeting-WIWC-20110118.pdf.