US and Colombian officials have concluded free trade agreement talks about duty-free exports to the South American country.

The negotiations are designed to increase duty-free exporting and improve market access for farmers and ranchers in the US.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers Colombia as the second largest agricultural market in Latin America, accounting for US$677m in sales of wheat, coarse grains, cotton and soybeans, among others.

The USDA wants to see the playing field levelled by eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers for US agricultural products, because it says many products from Colombia already enter the US duty-free.

USDA Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said that the proposed agreement would bring duty-free treatment for US exports including beef, cotton, wheat, soybeans, soybean meal, apples, pears, peaches and cherries, and improved market access for pork, corn, poultry, fruits and vegetables and dairy products.

Johanns said: “Opening the Colombian market and increasing our two-way trade will strengthen our economic ties and also promote increased stability that will benefit all the nations of the Western Hemisphere.”