The May 15 implementation date for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is fast approaching, and several key details are yet to be settled. 

Among these is the development of a mechanism for administering the FTA’s tariff rate quotas (TRQ’s) for U.S. corn and grain sorghum. 

A USGC team met last week in Bogota with U.S. embassy officials and industry officials to further efforts to finalize the details.

“May 15 was an aggressive deadline,” said Kurt Shultz, USGC’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are glad the Colombian government is pressing ahead so quickly. Implementation of the FTA is very important to the Colombian feed industry and consumers as well as to U.S. exporters. But there is still some work to be done.”

The key issue is how to allocate remaining sales as the TRQ begins to fill. As total imports begin to approach the TRQ limit, both sellers and buyers need to know if a current sale will fit within the quota. In essence, Colombian trade officials need to be able to allocate the remaining space in a timely and transparent way. 

“Since we are already in May,” said Shultz, “the TRQ is not likely to fill completely in the first year. That gives us a little time before traders start to bump against the ceiling. But this is something that needs to be ironed out as soon as possible.” 

Another key issue is Colombia’s biotech labeling requirements for raw material imports destined for human consumption containing genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).

Currently, the Colombian approval process for biotech events is not synchronous with the U.S. This will become a growing issue as U.S. sales increase thanks to the FTA. USGC is continuing to work with the Colombian government and industry officials to develop a workable solution.