Colombia to boost ag acreage in response to U.S. free trade deal

05/20/2014 01:50:00 PM
Tom Karst

The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Act has resulted in an agricultural export boom for Colombia and government officials have set a goal to double farm acreage by 2020.

Excluding coffee, flowers and bananas, agricultural exports from Colombia to the U.S. have risen 20% since the agreement took effect 20 months ago, Santiago Rojas, Colombia’s minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, said in a news release.

U.S. trade statistics show that Colombia’s shipments of fresh pineapples rose from $1.07 million in 2012 to $1.929 million in 2013, a gain of 80% in one year. Colombia’s exports of fresh berries to the U.S. grew from $189,000 in 2012 to $341,000 in 2013; also a gain of near 80%. Exports of fresh tomatoes to the U.S. rose from $27,000 in 2012 to $40,000 in 2013, a gain of nearly 50%.

Colombia is also a substantial importer of U.S. produce, with imports of U.S. grapes rising from $9.2 million in 2012 to $10.4 million in 2013. U.S. apples, almonds, pears and peaches are also imported into Colombia, according to the USDA.

Rojas said in the release that the free trade agreement with the U.S. has been good for Colombian growers.

“Colombia is called to be a major supplier of food and our overall business integration to the world is the perfect platform to do that,” Rojas said in the release.

He said Colombia has set a goal to double the area of cultivated farmland in the next five years, with aims to add about one million acres for horticulture production, and matching acreage increases for forestry, cocoa, corn and soybeans, palm and rubber.



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