Agriculture in Pending U.S. Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama [October 6, 2011] [open pdf - 458KB]
"On October 3, 2011, President Obama submitted the free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama to the 112th Congress for consideration. The bills to implement these agreements will now be debated under trade promotion authority, or fast-track rules, designed to expedite congressional consideration. Liberalizing trade in agricultural products, particularly the pace of expanding market access for the more sensitive agricultural commodities, was one of the more challenging areas that trade negotiators faced in concluding each of these FTAs. In each instance, issues dealing with food safety and animal/plant health matters (technically not part of the FTA negotiating agenda) were not resolved until later. Of these three pending agreements, the U.S.-South Korea (KORUS) FTA would be the most commercially significant for U.S. agriculture since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect with Mexico in 1994. Because Colombia, one of the largest markets in South America, imposes a high level of border protection on agricultural imports, the Colombia FTA has the potential to noticeably increase U.S. agricultural exports. Though Panama is a relatively small market, U.S. exporters would have opportunities to make additional sales under that agreement. [...] Analyses suggest that the market openings could result in U.S. agricultural exports from $2.3 billion to $3.1 billion higher than they would be without these trade agreements. These changes would be concentrated in a few commodity/product sectors. In value terms, U.S. exports of beef, processed food products, poultry, pork, and wheat would be noticeably higher. Agricultural imports under these FTAs would be slightly higher compared to maintaining the status quo."
CRS Report for Congress, R40622