U.S. Grains Council has opened a Latin America and Caribbean regional office in Panama City, Panama.

“The failure of the United States to ratify pending free trade agreements in the area has caused a significant loss in grain business and trade. It also has had a consequential effect on the economic development of our friends and allies in the Latin American region,” said the council’s chairman, Rick Fruth. “By establishing an office in Latin America and the Caribbean region, the council is strategically positioning itself to defend U.S. markets while simultaneously enhancing the quality of life of our trading partners.”

 Kurt Shultz was named the first director of the Panama City office. Shultz has worked for the U.S. Grains Council since 1999 and most recently served for seven years as its regional director for the Mediterranean and Africa.

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“The United States has a significant tariff disadvantage in these countries. It is a top priority of the council to level the playing field of the market in order to obtain greater U.S. market access,” said Shultz.

In addition to its new office in Panama, the U.S. Grains Council has international offices in nine other countries: China, Egypt, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan, Tunisia and Jordan.