U.S.-South Korea FTA: Implementation of the free trade agreements (FTAs) continues to make progress.

The U.S.-South Korea FTA entered into force on March 15. Timing was important as opposition parties continue to raise threats to oppose the agreement and achieve a majority within their parliament when elections are held in April. Timely action has averted this threat.

On a related matter, the United States plans to request a renewal of discussions on the U.S. beef trade, which had been tabled by mutual agreement until the FTA went into effect.

U.S.-Colombia FTA: Progress continues in talks between the United States and Colombia on various implementation issues.

The Colombian government sent to its congress a bill that would implement several obligations in the FTA, particularly related to copyrights, cross-border trade in services and intellectual property rights. After the bill is approved, it has to go to Colombia's constitutional court for a ruling on its constitutionality.

Colombia must complete the bilateral labor action plan as well. Timing for implementation remains uncertain, but it is the belief that an implementation date may be announced during the Summit of the Americas conference in Colombia on April 14-15.

The most aggressive timeline would be June with the expectation that it would enter into force by mid-summer.

U.S.-Panama FTA:The U.S. Trade Representative recently announced that the United States and Panama have tentatively set Oct. 1 as the implementation date for that FTA.

The Panama National Assembly gave its approval of the FTA last year, but Panama still has legislation that must be approved before the FTA can take effect.

In the case of Colombia and Panama, several trade capacity-building initiatives are needed in various areas, such as administration of tariff rate quotas (TRQs).

The Council has offered assistance in particular on both the corn and sorghum TRQs.

In addition, we will be holding meetings in late April with Colombian government officials, feed millers and livestock and poultry producers to work with them to encourage the government to provide for an emergency or special duty exemption to allow additional quantities of corn and sorghum over and above the TRQ level.