The U.S. Grains Council’s U.S., Colombia Free Trade Implementation Team last week witnessed the first shipment of U.S. grain being unloaded in Colombia after the implementation of the U.S., Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on May 15.
The Cargill shipment arrived at the port of Santa Maria May 30, containing 30,000 metric tons of U.S. grain: 9,900 tons of corn; 12,000 tons of wheat; 3,850 tons of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS); and 6,450 tons of corn gluten feed pellets.
“It was exciting to see the U.S. products being unloaded,” said Deb Keller, USGC Rest of the World Advisory Team leader who traveled with the group. “I particularly liked the fact that it wasn’t just corn. The United States is able to diversify its shipments to better meet customer’s import needs. This puts the United States at a significant market advantage. It means more vessels coming out the United States and more assurance of customer satisfaction – a win-win for everyone.”
Doyle Lentz of the North Dakota Barley Council, who also traveled with the group, commented on the impact this agreement has already made and will continue to make in the future. “Today we witnessed how the free trade agreement impacts American agriculture. This Cargill shipment signifies access to a market we may not have had otherwise,” he said.
After a quick tour of the port, the team met with the operations manager of the Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Barranquilla S.A. (SPRB), one of Colombia’s largest importers. While Barranquilla is diversified in its imports, steel and grain are by far the largest products, due to the great demand of this economically thriving country.
“The [U.S., Colombia] free trade agreement provides many opportunities for Colombia and especially Barranquilla,” said Pablo Riveira de la Rosa of SPRB. “Barranquilla is the city of the FTA. We are growing and are within close proximity of the United States.”
Riveira de la Rosa said the Barranquilla port is as important to Colombia as the New Orleans port is to the United States.
“The trade agreement helps to improve inefficiencies in the animal and livestock sectors,” said Wayne Cleveland, executive director of the Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board, who traveled with the group said. “Increasing demand for high-quality protein will force Colombia to make strides in advancing its inland transportation system. We look forward to the marketing opportunity in Colombia and will continue to work with Council staff to fully expose this market’s potential.”
USGC Asia Advisory Team Leader David Howell of Middletown, Indiana said it was gratifying to see the trade agreement in action. “Many people have dedicated many years of work into seeing the free trade agreement between Colombia and United States come into fruition. It is important to recognize these efforts as we continue our path of being important trade allies and partners,” he said.
Keller added that, “This was a good example of how the Council is working for us to build markets and give access to places we haven’t had in while.”
The team is made up of representatives of the Council’s three commodities. Team members include:
- Deb Keller – Iowa Corn Promotion Board
- David Howell – Indiana Corn Marketing Council
- Doyle Lentz – North Dakota Barley Council
- Wayne Cleveland – Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board
- Kurt Shultz – U.S. Grains Council Regional Director
- Floyd Gaibler – U.S. Grains Council Trade Policy Director
- Marri Carrow – U.S. Grains Council Communications Director