Two U.S. Soybean farmers participated in a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) fact-finding mission to Colombia this week.Designed to learn more about the pending Colombia-U.S. FTA and increased opportunities for U.S. soy products, the trip included meetings with government officials, business leaders, union representatives and displaced workers that have been employed by social programs coordinated between the Colombian government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).”This trip has really shown me the potential benefits of a FTA with Colombia,” Dennis Jaeger, an American Soybean Association (ASA) board member from South Dakota, said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve been very impressed with Colombia and its people. They are very passionate about maintaining and improving their relationship with the United States through the free trade agreement. An FTA between the United States and Colombia would strengthen existing trade ties and create jobs in both of our countries.”The trip included two days in Medellin and two days in Bogota. The group received warm welcomes from everyone they met.”The Colombian government and its businesses have made great strides to include corporate social responsibility in their efforts to reintegrate the rural populations into the country. From what I’ve seen, Colombia’s economy will continue to grow and I see great potential for U.S. soy products. It is important to continue to have them as a strong trading partner,” Vanessa Kummer, a United Soybean Board member from North Dakota said.Colombia is a great customer for U.S. soybean products and a great ally to the United States. It is the largest market for U.S. agricultural products in the Americas outside of NAFTA. Without the agreement, U.S. agriculture could lose its dominance in the market. Colombia is finalizing an agreement with Canada and has already completed agreements with Chile, the Andean countries and MERCOSUR. The Colombian government has already indicated that more agreements will come.Over 90 percent of Colombia’s total exports to the United States, and 99.5 percent of its agricultural exports, already enter the United States duty free because of existing trade preferences granted to Andean countries under the Andean Trade Preference Act, as well as under the Generalized System of Preferences system. The Colombia TPA will eliminate duties on U.S. exports to Colombia to provide a more balanced trade relationship between the countries. Thus, this agreement assuredly is in the economic interests of U.S. workers, farmers, and ranchers.