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USDA Plans November Agribusiness Trade Mission to Colombia, Panama

The USDA wants U.S. businesses interested in opening or extending market access opportunities in Colombia and Panama to attend an Agribusiness Trade Mission to the Republics of Colombia and Panama, scheduled for Nov. 14-17, 2011 in Bogotá, Colombia.

The goal is to provide U.S. participants with first-hand market information, access to government decision makers, and one-on-one meetings with business contacts, including potential agents, distributors and partners, so U.S. business can position themselves to enter or expand their presence in the Colombian and Panamanian market.

The Mission comes as the U.S.-Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are pending entry into force, which will significantly reduce trade barriers and enhance opportunities for U.S. agricultural trade. A decision on both the Colombia and Panama FTAs should be forthcoming this summer.

The United States is Colombia’s largest trading partner, the 23rd largest market for U.S. exports in 2009 (up from 29th in 2007), and the fourth largest market for U.S. exports in Latin America. The United States-Colombia FTA was signed on November 22, 2006. When the Colombia FTA enters into force, Colombia will immediately eliminate most of its tariffs on U.S. exports, with all remaining tariffs phased out over defined time periods. The U.S.-Colombia FTA will expand U.S. goods exports alone by more than $1.1 billion and give key U.S. goods and services duty free access in sectors from manufacturing to agriculture.

Panama is also an attractive market for U.S. agricultural exports with one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, expanding 6.2 percent in 2010, with similar annual growth forecast through 2015. The United States and Panama signed an FTA on June 28, 2007. Panama approved the FTA on July 11, 2007.

The U.S.-Panama FTA is a comprehensive free trade agreement that can result in significant liberalization of trade in goods and services. Panama has also entered into a bilateral agreement with the United States resolving a number of regulatory barriers to trade in agricultural goods ranging from meat and poultry to processed products, including dairy and rice.

Colombian and Panamanian entrepreneurs will travel to Bogotá to meet with selected U.S. agribusiness participants. Meetings with Colombian, Panamanian, U.S. Government and Industry Officials; Presentations by Public/Private Sector Experts; One-on-one business meetings and Site Visits will be scheduled during the Mission. Additional business meetings can be arranged by USDA for your convenience.

The USDA will cover all on-ground expenses (transportation, translation, conference venue, reception costs, etc.) during the Mission. Participants are responsible for their travel to Bogotá and lodging costs (at the government rate).

Recruitment for the mission will begin immediately, and will conclude June 30th, 2011. For more information and application, email Darrell.Upshaw@fas.usda.gov.