The United States and Colombia now have a Free Trade Agreement. The FTA will immediately eliminate duties on many U.S. products exported to Colombia and will phase out duties on all pork and beef imports from the U.S. over a 10-year period. Under the terms of the agreement, Colombia will recognize the equivalence of the U.S. meat inspection system and accept imports from all USDA-approved plants.

   “Colombia will be a key South American market for both U.S. pork and U.S. beef,” says Ricardo Vernazza-Paganini, USMEF director, Central & South America. “Our pork exports to Colombian processors will benefit greatly, and some of our cuts may be sold to retailers and the foodservice industry.”

U.S. pork exports to Colombia were hampered by Colombia’s restrictive import duty system, but the FTA will establish a Tariff Rate Quota for backfat, hams, picnics and trimmings, and a separate quota for pork variety meat that will include feet, an important export item. The current annual market for pork is around 170,000 metric tons, imports account for 8,000 to 10,000 mt and most imports are from the United States (36 percent), Chile (35 percent) and Canada (25 percent). Colombia ranks third in the Central and South American region as a destination for U.S. pork exports, but from 1999-2004 U.S. pork, exports dropped about 50 percent.