As for where the FTAs stand based on mid-January information, Alfaro says “I understand the South Korea FTA will be implemented first, perhaps as soon as February. Korea appears to be on track and we expected it to happen in the first quarter of this year.”  

For full coverage of the recent FTAs, see here.

In Colombia, Alfaro does not expect the FTA to be implemented until after June. “USTR and the Colombian government continue to work diligently to ensure all the provisions of the agreement fit Colombian law. There are also additional conditions with respect to labor laws and judicial issues.”

The Panama FTA could be in force mid-year. “We expect the Panama agreement to be implemented before Colombia.”

On another trade front, Yielding said plans for the Chinese to import U.S. rice are still in force. Yielding and BJ Campbell, a Missouri rice farmer and board member of the U.S. Rice Producers Association, just returned from a trip to China.

“We were in Beijing and met with Chinese government officials to discuss the rice trade,” he says. “It looks really good and they’re going through the routine of setting things up. They had a good visit here and said there had been no problems found.”

For more, see here and here.

“We just need to see their final reports and documentation to know what they’ll require of the United States in order to ship rice into China. That should come after their new year’s celebration, which ends at the end of January. The Chinese new year is a big deal – like rolling Christmas, Thanksgiving, and July 4 into one.”

While in China, Yielding and Campbell met with APHIS officials at the U.S. embassy and “they remain on top of the situation. We feel very good about it. As soon as there is some movement by the Chinese government, we’ll know.”  

Yielding and Campbell also met with Chinese buyers that toured U.S. rice farms and facilities late in 2011. “They were all excited and want to do the business. They want quality rice – that’s still the deal – and they can sell it for a premium price.”