PROCOLOMBIA, USDA-FAS, and Indiana Duck — Feb. 26

We kicked off Friday morning with a trek through Bogotá to our first meeting. One of our tour guides from The Colombian Project (http://colombianproject.com/) is a fifth-generation Bogotá native, so we learned a lot about the architecture and history of the city along the way. It’s a fascinating place complete with the most beautiful, historic homes nestled alongside modern office buildings.

The morning also included a stop at Juan Valdez for some authentic Colombian coffee. As you can imagine, more than a few pounds of freshly ground Juan Valdez came home to Indiana with us.

PROCOLOMBIA
After sufficient caffeination, we headed off to the PROCOLOMBIA (http://www.procolombia.co/en) offices where we met with an adviser named Margarita. She explained to us that the role of the organization is to promote exports, tourism, foreign investment and the Colombian country brand worldwide.

A few facts about Colombia that we learned during our visit:
* Colombia is 2nd in the world in flower exports and is the 2nd largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.
* Inflation rate of 6.7 percent.
* One of the top 20 countries worldwide for foreign direct investment (FDI).
* 33 percent of Colombian land use is for agriculture (27 percent cattle, 3 percent forestry, 2 percent crops, 1 percent other).
* 6.1 percent of Colombia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is agricultural production.

Bogotá

ROOM WITH A VIEW — The PROCOLOMBIA conference room offered breathtaking views of Bogotá.

 

Colombia, PROCOLOMBIA, Agriculture

PROCOLOMBIA — Moderator Guy Shafer offers thanks to PROCOLOMBIA adviser Margarita on behalf of our class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USDA-FAS

Following a quick stop at the national museum for lunch, we headed off for a meeting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (http://www.fas.usda.gov/regions/colombia). USDA-FAS focuses on creating and facilitating foreign markets for US exports, leads USDA’s efforts to help developing countries improve their agricultural systems and build their trade capacity, and works with foreign governments, international organizations, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to establish international standards and rules to improve accountability and predictability for agricultural trade.

Anthony Gilbert, Agricultural Attache, gave a fantastic presentation about agriculture’s role in the Colombian economy and the relationship between Colombia and the U.S.

Some facts Anthony shared:
* Coffee, cut flowers and bananas make up 82 percent of Colombia’s exports to the U.S.
* Colombian exports to the U.S. in 2015 totaled $2.43 billion.
* 51 percent of Colombia’s agricultural imports came from the U.S. in 2015, compared with just 17 percent in 2012.

Anthony explained that Colombia has a number of challenges in advancing trade capacities, including infrastructure problems, difficult logistics, high transport costs, overly bureaucratic new-product registration and port inspections, frequent political leadership changes, and protectionist influence in spite of trade agreements.

But he also explained that Colombia boasts a lot of opportunities. For example, income shifts have created fast-changing tastes and preferences suited to U.S. consumer-oriented products, causing consumer-oriented trade to jump by 167 percent between 2011 and 2014. Other opportunities include peace and stability, government support for trade alliances, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation Development accession, and the Pacific Alliance and Trans-Pacific Partnership. USDA-FAS in Colombia also has been working on an in-country campaign to promote U.S. food culture and agricultural products. It’s called SaborUSA and you can learn more at http://www.saborUSA.co.

We also had the distinct pleasure of meeting with Agricultural Counselor Michael Conlon and Agricultural Specialist Juan Gallego.

USDA-FAS, Colombia, Agriculture

FROM LEFT: Moderator Jennifer Stewart-Burton, Agricultural Specialist Juan Gallego, Agricultural Attache Anthony Gilbert, Agricultural Counselor Michael Conlon, and Moderator Guy Shafer.

It was no accident that we met with PROCOLOMBIA and USDA-FAS in the same day. Hearing from an organization charged with promoting Colombia, followed by a presentation by a U.S. agriculture representative in Colombia, completely enriched our experience. It offered us glimpses of Colombian trade and agriculture through two different lenses.

CHEERS TO MAPLE LEAF FARMS!
ALP Class 16 would like to offer our most sincere thanks to Maple Leaf Farms (http://www.mapleleaffarms.com/) for sponsoring our closing dinner in Colombia. It was a surreal and delicious experience for us to dine on Indiana duck at Niko Café in Bogotá. Our class had a wonderful time celebrating our two-week journey abroad and talking about what an amazing and enlightening experience it had been. Thank you for being part of it, Maple Leaf!