While the United States and Colombia will both benefit from the ratification of the free trade pact, a proposed biotech regulation has the potential to put the country’s corn imports from all sources, including the U.S., at risk.
Colombia imports more than 3 million metric tons (118 million bushels) of corn a year. Until 2008, it was a U.S.-dominated market, but the delay in ratification of the FTA allowed Argentina and Brazil to gain market share. With passage of the FTA, the U.S. is now looking to rebound from third place. But U.S., Argentine, and Brazilian corn is all biotech—as are Colombia’s smaller imports from other Latin American sources—and imports from all sources into Columbia could be curtailed due to restrictive new regulations on the import of grains containing biotech events.
“This regulation simply is not commercially viable given the current pace of the approvals and the robust biotech industry product pipeline,” said Andrew Conner, U.S. Grains Council manager of global biotechnology.
The Council is actively working to help Colombian stakeholders resolve this problem. “The U.S. Grains Council is committed to working with the Colombian industry and government to ensure the regulations are clearly written and implemented, so they do not damage U.S. corn exports to Colombia or hinder the competiveness of the Colombian food and feed sectors,” Conner announced.
As part of this effort the Council hosted a U.S. Embassy Bogota sponsored team of industry and government representatives from Colombia at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. After the D.C. visit, the team traveled to the University of Missouri for a biotech regulatory workshop. The meetings were aimed at assisting the Colombians address current biotech issues and help them be prepared for additional “issues that may arise in the future.”
Conner noted that the issue about import of biotech corn still needs resolved to remove any market access barrier to the Colombian market.