N. D. Trade Mission Seeks New Markets in Colombia

FARGO – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO), and the U.S. Commercial Service will lead six North Dakota companies on a Trade Mission to Colombia, Oct. 8-12.

The North Dakota - Colombia Trade Mission delegation will include Case New Holland, ECHO Bear Cat, JM Grain, Lura Enterprises, Northarvest Bean Growers and RDO Equipment. Delegates will meet with potential buyers in the cities of Bogota and Medellin. It is the first North Dakota trade mission to Colombia in four years.

“The recently-signed U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, along Colombia's growing middle class and improved living standards, are opening doors for North Dakota exporters,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said. “We have developed strong partnerships between the North Dakota Trade Office, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Commercial Service to expand North Dakota's presence in Colombia and other markets throughout the world.”

The United States-Colombia Free Trade Agreement took effect May 15, 2012, lifting Colombian duties on more than 80 percent of U.S. industrial exports, including agricultural, construction and medical equipment, building products, aircraft, fertilizers and information technology hardware.

“More than half of U.S. agricultural exports to Colombia are now duty-free,” said Commissioner Goehring. “These include wheat, soybeans, barley, high-quality beef and other important North Dakota commodities.”

The United States is Colombia's largest trading partner. Colombia was the 22nd largest market for U.S. exports, which topped $14 billion in 2011, an increase of more than 15 percent over 2010. Colombia is currently North Dakota's 22nd largest export market with exports just over $14 million in 2011.

“North Dakota has chosen the perfect time to bring a trade mission to Colombia,” said Cameron Werker, Senior Commercial Officer at US Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. “The Colombian economy grew at a rate of 5.9 percent in 2011, the middle class has doubled over the past 10 years, and foreign direct investment is has historic highs. All these economic factors, combined with our newly implemented Free Trade Agreement and the Colombians appreciation and demand for U.S. goods and services, makes for the perfect environment for North Dakota companies to enter the Colombian market or expand their exports in Colombia.”

Colombia is Latin America's fifth largest economy and third largest population with approximately 46 million people. The country boasts a free market economy with major commercial and investment ties to the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America

The North Dakota-Colombia Trade Mission is part of a larger strategy to promote North Dakota's high-quality products in key international markets. According to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics, North Dakota's merchandise exports have grown nearly 235 percent since the conception of NDTO, from $1 billion in 2004 to $3.4 billion in 2011.

As part of the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration, the U.S. Commercial Service in North Dakota provides direct assistance to exporters and is part of the federal agency's worldwide network of offices in 109 U.S. cities and nearly 80 countries.

NDTO is a member-based organization providing education, research, advocacy, organization and leadership for North Dakota companies to develop and expand their export business. NDTO is a public-private partnership, led by a board of directors, chaired by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley.