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AFJ & Assosiates
AFJ & Associates
April 2, 2008
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Allen F. Johnson & Associates Implements Fresh and Chipping Potato Marketing Seminars in El Salvador, Guatemala and Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Pacific Northwest (PNW) potato commissions and state departments of agriculture located in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State contracted Allen F. Johnson & Associates (AFJ) through a grant from USDA to conduct technical seminars to promote Pacific Northwest fresh tablestock and chipping potatoes in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.  The seminars took place February 11-15, 2008 and over 80 local industry representatives attended, including snack food processors, importers, distributors, retailers, hotels, restaurants, and institutions.   

Participants learned about PNW fresh tablestock and chipping potato varieties and growing conditions, harvesting and packing procedures, as well as potato characteristics, uses, grading, handling, and storage technology.  This information helped participants to choose the right PNW potato varieties to maximize their profitability and expand their customer base.  AFJ’s knowledge of the Central American markets and contacts ensured an effective implementation of the program and helped to facilitate key contacts between US and Central American companies. 

Implementation of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) is creating new trade opportunities between the United States and some of its closest Central American trading partners.  As tariffs are reduced and ultimately eliminated, and economic ties are strengthened, new commercial opportunities will be created for competitive and ambitious companies.  Potatoes are a good example, as the Pacific Northwest region of the US produces very high quality fresh tablestock and chipping potatoes.  As tariffs are eliminated under the CAFTA-DR agreement, there will be increased demand for high quality potato products.  As a result of the CAFTA-DR free trade agreement, tariffs on U.S. fresh potatoes exported to El Salvador and Guatemala will be reduced from 12% to zero by 2020  In Costa Rica, US fresh potatoes currently face a 47% tariff, however, once Costa Rica implements it’s FTA the US will receive a preferential tariff-rate quota of around 300 metric tons, which will grow to 384 metric tons by 2020.  After 2020, the TRQ will grow by 6 metric tons per year.

In order to take advantage of these new market openings, importers, processors, and other consumers of fresh tablestock and chipping potatoes need key information on maintaining product quality, logistics, and grading standards - the key subjects of the recent seminars.  Knowledge of local markets and key contacts is also a critical component for success. 

AFJ provides a full range of services for companies, governments, and institutions engaged in the international economy.  Before starting this company, Allen F. Johnson was the Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the United States and oversaw the negotiations and Congressional passage of the CAFTA-DR agreement.  This project was managed by AFJ staff including Sharon Sydow (agriculture policy expert) Jason Hafemeister (formerly the lead agriculture negotiator for the CAFTA-DR agreement), and José Carlos Sarmiento (regional manager for AFJ in Latin America).