The agricultural sector will reap considerable benefits from the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), according to ATA. The bill, which was passed early last month, makes half of current U.S. agricultural exports to Central America duty-free; tariffs on most U.S. farm exports will be phased out within 15 years.
According to ATA, CAFTA is expected to boost U.S. agricultural exports by $1.5 billion annually. “Where there [is free trade with] growing markets, obviously one of the most significant sectors of the economy will be agriculture, producers of grain and other agricultural commodities,” says Fletcher Hall, exec. dir. of the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference Commercial (AFTC) “Transportation of agricultural commodities will see increased business — particularly near the Southern-East Coast ports,” he adds.
“With population and consumption growth for many products stagnant in the United States, access to markets such as those in Central America is critical for the growth and profitability of U.S. agriculture,” said AFTC chairman Greg Owen. “Increased exports will amplify demand and business for commercial transporters of agricultural commodities and food products.”