Just minutes after the new director of the ISDA was announced Friday, the man who left the post met with the media to talk trade from Panama. USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney has met with officials in Colombia and Panama. Unlike NAFTA though, McKinney says trade promotion agreements in effect with those nations since 2012 are in good working order.
“We like, and I think Colombia and Panama like what they have,” he said, “and so the intent is to grow it, and growing it means trade both ways. Trade is not a one way street, and so the degree to which we’re doing our best to embrace and welcome those imports, I would say in those countries most are products we don’t make. Coffee for example, bananas, mangos, so it’s a natural trading partnership, but there’s been no reference that I’ve ever heard of in re-doing these two free trade agreements. None at all.”
But McKinney also said each country must be diligent at keeping free trade agreements working properly.
“That’s why I and my colleagues make these trips, so that we’re continuing to have good, honest discussions and sharing concerns. Likewise, they raised questions on us. To keep it free trade we have to have the ongoing dialogue and exchanges so that we’re talking always friendly and respectfully I think, at least that’s the way we have been this week and last, but also candidly and firmly so that we know the rules and we play by the rules.”
McKinney pointed to existing talks with Colombia about their method of determining which ethanol will be imported. He said it’s standard due diligence so that a barrier to U.S. corn ethanol exports is not established.