The American Soybean Association has praised the upcoming implementation of the U.S.–Colombia free trade agreement, which will provide a boost for U.S. soybean exports and other American agricultural products to Central and South America’s third-largest economy.

The agreement, which goes into effect on May 15, is a significant opportunity for soybean farmers, as it will expand a valuable export market for the industry's products, said American Soybean Association First Vice President Danny Murphy. “We are making steady progress toward regaining lost market share in Colombia, and this agreement will markedly advance that progress."

As part of the agreement, more than half of all U.S. farm exports to Colombia — including soybeans and soybean meal and flour — will become duty-free, with virtually all of the remaining tariffs to be eliminated over the next 15 years. The agreement also provides duty-free tariff rate quotas on soybean oil, as well as livestock and dairy exports that utilize soybean inputs.

Soybeans and soybean products are the largest U.S. agricultural export commodity, totaling nearly 1.5 billion bushels in 2011, with a value of more than $22 billion. In 2011, the U.S. exported more than $182 million in soybeans and soybean products to Colombia, as part of $832 million in agricultural products. The International Trade Commission estimates that the agreement will expand overall exports to Colombia by more than $1.1 billion and support thousands of additional American jobs.