July Target for Colombia-Canada FTA to Cost U.S. Farmers Billions

April 1, 2011 Bookmark and Share

The Colombian government said this week that a free trade agreement between the Latin American country and Canada could be in effect as soon as July 1, an outcome that would be devastating to U.S. wheat producers’ market share there.

Colombia said on Wednesday that the Canadian agreement had gotten approval from Canada’s Constitutional Court, the last major step toward implementation.

The Colombia-Canada agreement has moved with lighting speed compared to a similar measure negotiated between Colombia and the U.S. that has yet to be sent to Congress for approval. The U.S. signed its agreement in November 2006, while the Canadians finished their agreement two years later, in November of 2008.

Once implemented the Colombia-Canada agreement could further hurt U.S. wheat producers, who have already seen their once dominant market share reduced because of trade preferences Colombia enjoys with Argentina.

In fact, while Colombian flour millers tell U.S. Wheat Associates they want to be able to keep buying U.S. wheat, the tariff disadvantage the U.S. product will face will force them to buy from Canada, costing U.S. wheat producers nearly $100 million per year.

The U.S. wheat industry has strongly advocated for passage of the pending FTA with Colombia and two other languishing agreements with Panama and South Korea. NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates will continue to work through multiple channels to push for the agreements’ immediate passage.