President George W. Bush notified Congress of his intent to sign a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Columbia. In his letter, Bush said the FTA "will generate export opportunities for U.S. farmers, ranchers and companies, help create jobs in the U.S. and help American consumers save money while offering them more choices."
Under the agreement, U.S. farm exports will receive immediate duty-free treatment for high-quality beef, cotton, wheat, soybeans, soybean meal, and key fruits and vegetables. Pork, beef, corn, poultry, rice, fruits, vegetables and processed products will benefit from improved market access. Also, Colombia will allow for trade in beef and beef products from animals of all ages. Congress is expected to consider the Columbian FTA next year.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent