In October 2011 Congress passed three new free trade agreements with Colombia, Korea, and Panama. The U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement will take effect on October 31, 2012. The other two agreements have been fully implemented already.
The U.S.-Panama Free Trade agreement -- also known as a Trade Promotion Agreement -- will reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade between the two nations. The agreement is designed to level the playing field in U.S.-Panama exchange of goods and services, and it is expected that 87 percent of U.S. goods will enter Panama duty-free, compared to less than 40 percent in 2010. Prior to the agreement, 98 percent of Panamanian goods entered the U.S. without penalty. Measures to protect U.S. investors, protect intellectual property rights, and enhance fairness in government procurement are also important parts of the agreement.
The agreement has major implications for Kansas. Between 2008 and 2010, Kansas annually exported $25 million to consumers in Panama. Of Kansas' major agricultural exports, producers can expect the following reductions in tariffs:
Corn: Tariffs eliminated on a 298,000-ton tariff-rate quota. Additional tariffs to be phased out over the next 15 years.
Sorghum: Tariffs eliminated in five years.
Beef: Tariffs on prime and choice cuts eliminated immediately. Tariffs on other beef cuts to be phased out over the next 15 years.
Wheat: Zero tariff will become permanent. Wheat flour tariff eliminated in 12 years.
Soybeans (and soybean meal and crude soybean oil): Zero tariff will become permanent.
Pork: U.S. products including fresh and frozen pork cuts, pork fat and bacon, and processed pork will receive immediate duty-free access (though subject to tariff-rate quotas).
Congressman Huelskamp, who represents the First Congressional District of Kansas, one of the largest agricultural-producing districts in the nation, offered the following remarks about the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement taking effect:
"The execution of the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement is a big win for Kansas farmers and ranchers. Freer trade in a freer market benefits all, including producers, consumers, and taxpayers. These recent agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea should be seen as a starting point -- not the finish line -- in America's trade agenda. Across the globe, incomes are rising; any chance we forego to sell to consumers with more purchasing power is our loss and another nation's gain. In the 113th Congress, I look forward to considering additional agreements that will expand further market access for U.S. producers."