The American Soybean Association (ASA) is celebrating Congressional passage of the U.S. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that represent nearly $3 billion of additional agriculture exports to these trading partners.

ASA applauds President Barack Obama and Congress for working together to reach a final vote and urges the Administration to ensure that these FTAs enter into force by Jan. 1, 2012.

“ASA has been working for a number of years toward passage of these trade agreements, which contain significant export gains for U.S. agriculture.” said ASA President Alan Kemper, a soybean producer from Lafayette, Ind.

“Increased exports of U.S. soy and soy fed meat and poultry will benefit soybean farmers and rural economies. After nearly five years of delays and loss of U.S. market share, soybean farmers look forward to realizing the opportunities these FTAs provide for America’s economic growth.”

The Korea FTA offers immediate duty-free access to U.S. soybeans for crushing and to U.S. soybean meal. It also opens up South Korea’s food-grade soybean imports to the private sector. The agreement will increase exports of the major grain, oilseed, fiber, fruit and vegetable, and livestock products by $1.8 billion annually, according to economic forecasts by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The Colombia FTA will create new opportunities for U.S. soybean farmers in the Colombian market by immediately eliminating tariffs ranging from 5-20 percent on soybeans, soybean meal and soybean flour, and phasing-out the 24 percent tariffs for crude soybean oil and refined soybean oil over 5 years.

“Most exports from Colombia already enter the U.S. duty-free, and this FTA will correct the current tariff imbalance in agricultural trade between our countries,” Kemper said.

The Panama FTA will benefit soybean farmers by immediately removing the tariffs on U.S. soybeans, soybean meal, and crude vegetable oils.