Colombian Producers Share Ideas During Export Exchange08 November 2012
COLOMBIA - Colombia has a strong economy that has been growing over the last decade, and even though global commodity prices are higher, Colombia is still a major grain importer because its economy is growing and its currency is strong, said Jaime Rueda, CEO of Escala, a poultry company, at the Export Exchange 2012 last week.
"With our strong currency, consumption is still going up because the Colombian people have more purchasing power," Mr Rueda said.
A free trade agreement (FTA) between Colombia and the United States was implemented this year. Rueda confirmed that the FTA gives his company better access to US products because high duties did not allow a lot of US-Colombia ag commerce to occur before.
"The FTA was critical for United States exports into Colombia," said Kurt Shultz, regional director for the Americas for the US Grains Council. "Duties on competing countries were being eliminated, putting us at a significant competitive disadvantage. With the FTA the playing field is more level."
The Council has been conducting programs in Colombia for several years in preparation for the FTA being implemented, but Shultz acknowledged that there is still work to do. "It takes time to re-build a market, but we view Colombia as an economic powerhouse in South America, and it continues to grow, so there will be opportunities in the future," he said.
Mr Rueda and 10 of his key poultry producers – both broiler and table egg producers – spent time in Arkansas on a Council-led trade mission before the Export Exchange. While there, they met with farmers, participated in a technical short course at the University of Arkansas and discussed technology and production techniques with US poultry companies.
He said the group gained valuable insight during the trade mission, and had the opportunity to exchange many concepts and ideas.
"It's because of the US Grains Council that we had these opportunities to meet with farmers and poultry producers and with companies that help us build our business," Mr Rueda said.
While at Export Exchange, Mr Rueda said he and the other Colombia poultry producers and buyers had "a fantastic discussion about everything related to importing US products versus products from other origins." At the same time, he said, they did a lot of networking with US suppliers.