Goehring: New free trade pacts will benefit ND producers

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring predicts North Dakota will be a big winner with the passage of the new trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama.

“Most American products exported to these countries will become duty-free immediately on implementation of the agreements,” Goehring said Tuesday. “This translates into increased export opportunities for North Dakota agricultural products, such as wheat, soybeans and pulse crops.”

Implementing legislation was signed Monday by President Obama.

Goehring said North Dakota exports to Colombia and South Korea are estimated to reach $11 million and $12 million, respectively. The agreement with Panama lifts tariffs on 87 percent of U.S. goods to that country.

“South Korea now has a $250-per-ton markup on soybean imports and a 40 percent tariff on beef imports,” Goehring said. “Panama has an average tariff of 15 percent on agricultural imports, but that figure can reach as high as 260 percent.”

Goehring said Colombia's complex tariff system can imposes levies as high as 248 percent on wheat and barley, 150 percent on soybeans, 194 percent on some corn products and 60 percent of dry peas, beans and lentils.

“Obviously, the removal of these tariffs and duties will go far in leveling the playing field for our farm exports to these countries,” Goehring said. “The benefits to American agriculture could be incalculable.”

Tariff schedules for the three countries can be found at www.fas.usda.gov/scriptsw/wtopdf/wtopdf_frm.asp and http://export.gov/FTA/ftatarifftool/index.asp.

Goehring said companies interested in learning more about exporting to Colombia, Panama and South Korea or want to know about upcoming trade activities in these countries should contact the Fargo office of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture at 701-239-7211.

North Dakota's total agricultural exports, estimated at $3.3 billion in 2010, support an estimated 27,700 on-farm and off-farm jobs, and are an important contribution to the North Dakota farm economy.