The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomed this week’s announcement from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative that the free trade agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and Panama will enter into force on Oct. 31. ASA congratulates the government of both countries for their work on the FTA, a longstanding priority for the association.
“The enactment of the free trade agreement with Panama at the end of the month is a big win for soybean farmers,” said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb. “Panama is one of the most rapidly-growing economies in Latin America, and represents a valuable market for American soy and the many products like poultry and pork for which soy is critical in the production process. We commend the American and Panamanian governments for their work on seeing this agreement to completion and we look forward to continuing a successful partnership with our friends in Panama.”
As of Oct. 31, all tariffs on U.S. soybeans, soybean meal, and crude vegetable oils will be removed with the enactment of the FTA. Tariffs will also be removed for many beef, poultry and pork products, which use soybean meal as feed. Additionally, the FTA will level the trade playing field between the two countries, which currently sees more than 99 percent of Panamanian exports to the U.S. enter duty free under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, while the majority of American exports to Panama are subject to tariffs.
The U.S. exported more than $53 million in soybean products to Panama last year, down from $65 million in 2010. Soybeans and soybean products are the largest U.S. agricultural export commodity, totaling nearly 1.5 billion bushels in 2011, with a value of more than $23 billion. This represents more than half of domestic soybean production and 20 percent of total American farm exports.
ASA represents all U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international issues of importance to the soybean industry. ASA’s advocacy efforts are made possible through the voluntary membership in ASA by more than 21,000 farmers in 31 states where soybeans are grown.