Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus celebrated a victory for jobs today as the Colombia Free Trade Agreement officially entered into force. Baucus led efforts to pass the agreement through the Senate last year and led 15 Montanans on a trade mission to Colombia last February.
"Before today, Colombian tariffs made it difficult for Montana beef, wheat and barley to compete in what is the third-largest economy in Central and South America. Today, Colombian duties on high-quality Montana beef, wheat and barley are eliminated. That's a victory for American jobs," Baucus said.
"Before today, Colombian businesses could sell the vast majority of their products in the United States without paying import duties under U.S. trade preference programs. But American companies were paying tariffs as high as 20 percent or more. Today, we level the playing field by eliminating duties on 80 percent of American exports to Colombia right away, and starting on a path to eliminate the other 20 percent over time. That's a victory for American jobs.
"Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work. I want to thank the 15 Montanans who traveled with me to Colombia a year ago, to explore ways that the Colombia free trade agreement would help their businesses. I can't wait to see all the ways they, and businesses like them all across the country, turn today's victory into good-paying American jobs."
What the Colombia FTA means for Montana
The Colombia FTA will provide particular benefits to Montana farmers and ranchers by immediately eliminating Colombia's duties on high-quality Montana beef, wheat and barley. Colombian tariffs currently render Montana malt barley non-competitive and make Montana wheat less competitive than wheat from other countries that have trade agreements with Colombia.
The Colombia FTA would also benefit Montana manufacturing firms by immediately eliminating duties on 80 percent of exports to Colombia, with the remainder eliminated over time. Colombian businesses can already sell the vast majority of their products in the United States without paying import duties under U.S. trade preference programs. The U.S.-Colombia FTA would level the playing field and give Montana businesses the same duty-free access to sell their goods in Colombia - including Montana businesses that participated in Baucus' trade mission in February. A complete overview of the agreement from the U.S. Trade Representative is available HERE.
Timeline of Baucus' Work
October 12, 2011 - Montanans Hail Final Passage of Job-Creating Trade Deals, Worker Retraining Program
October 11, 2011 - Baucus Pushes Job-Creating Trade Deals through Committee
May 11, 2011 - Baucus Brings Montana Grain Growers' President to D.C. to Continue Advancing the Colombia Trade Agreement
April 6, 2011 - Baucus Hails Colombia Free Trade Agreement as Step Forward for Montana Jobs
March 10, 2011 - Baucus Pushes President's Top Trade Official to Move Agreements Critical to Montana Jobs
March 1, 2011 - Baucus Criticizes President's Trade Agenda for Failing to Address Trade Agreements Critical to Jobs
February 18, 2011 - Baucus Presses Ag Secretary on Urgent Need for Trade Agreements that Protect, Promote Montana Jobs
February 17, 2011 - Baucus Announces 15 Montanans Joining Him on Colombia, Brazil Trade Mission to Promote Montana Jobs