Three New U.S. Free Trade Agreements Offer Growth Opportunities for U.S. Businesses
The U.S. Congress last week approved three new free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which collectively will give U.S. manufacturers, agribusiness interests and service suppliers access to nearly 100 million consumers under new, improved export terms. Once the agreements are implemented, most U.S. products exported to Korea, Colombia and Panama will become duty-free, increasing U.S. exports by some $13 billion. In addition, the agreements will reduce non-tariff barriers on U.S. agribusiness exports, protect U.S. intellectual property rights, improve investment protections and ensure more open access for U.S. service providers. Goods and services from South Korea, Colombia and Panama will also enjoy improved access into the U.S. market, which will lower costs for U.S. importing companies, but may increase market pressures for certain U.S. sectors. All three FTAs include complex rules of origin and access schedules, which businesses will need to understand to take full commercial advantage of these agreements. The target implementation date for the three FTAs is January 1, 2012, although this date may slip to mid-2012.