Grains Council Protects U.S. Corn Exports To Colombia

Using Market Access Program (MAP) funds, the Latin America regional office of the U.S. Grains Council worked with Colombian corn importers, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA/FAS), and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to ensure imports of U.S. corn would receive the appropriate preferences under the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement.

Beginning in July 2020, the Colombian National Directorate of Taxes and Customs (DIAN) issued special customs requirements to some of the largest Colombian corn importers. In the special requests, DIAN argued that the certificates of origin used for importing the U.S. origin grain did not comply with the local requirements. These requirements directly threatened U.S. access to a top-five export partner for corn, whose demand has grown 5.5 percent in the last decade.

The Council used MAP funds to deploy an on-the-ground strategy, conducting virtual meetings and conference calls to align and engage the end-users involved in the case and work with the FAS post in Bogota. The Council provided information explaining how U.S. corn is produced and commercialized for exports while also sharing market intel with the FAS post and following up on the issue until it was resolved.

With the support of MAP funds, the Council was in constant communication with domestic end-users, supported information requirements, and acted as a facilitator between the FAS post and the domestic industry, which also responded directly.

On July 15, 2021, an exchange of letters between USTR and the Ministry of Commerce, Innovation, and Technology (MINCIT) in Colombia’s government clarified the understanding of the requirements to certify the origin of U.S. corn. According to the letters, the need to specify the producers’ information on the certificate of origin of U.S. corn was removed.

From June 2020 to July 2021, the Council invested $65,591 in MAP funds in Colombia. The presence of the Council in the market supported the resolution of the issue of protected access to this market, which represented $935.6 million of U.S. corn exports in the 2020/2021 marketing year.