WASHINGTON, D.C., March 15, 2010 — U.S. Grains Council Chairman Rick Fruth Friday announced the official opening of the Council’s newest international office in Panama City, Panama. The USGC Latin America and Caribbean Region office represents a key presence in the region as the Council continues its work of Developing Markets, Enabling Trade and Improving Lives.
“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 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 Council since 1999 and previously served for seven years as USGC regional director for the Mediterranean and Africa before transitioning to his current post.
In its first year of operation, the Latin America and Caribbean Region office will focus on the needs of each country, in order to extract greater value for U.S. producers.
“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.
The Council is appreciative of the Texas Corn Producers Board and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board for special grants they provided to support the opening of the office.
In addition to its new office in Panama, the U.S. Grains Council has international offices in nine other countries, including China, Egypt, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan, Tunisia and Jordan.
Written by Jodi Kiely, USGC Contributing Writer