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AFJ & Assosiates
AFJ & Associates
June 8, 2007
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Northwest Potato Commissions and Allen F. Johnson & Associates, Conduct Marketing Seminars in Central America

WASHINGTON, DC, June 8, 2007 -- The potato commissions of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington contracted with Allen F. Johnson and Associates (AFJ) through a grant from USDA to conduct five marketing seminars on frozen potatoes in Central America from 20 - 27 April.  Seminars were held in El Salvador (San Salvador), Guatemala (Guatemala City), Honduras (San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa) and Costa Rica (San Jose).  Over 200 local industry representatives attended, including importers, distributors, retailers, and restaurants to learn about strategies for preserving the cold chain, transportation and logistics, and grading and quality.


Implementation of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) is creating new trade opportunities between the United States and some of its closest Latin American partners.  As tariffs are reduced and ultimately eliminated, and economic ties are strengthened, new commercial opportunities will be created for competitive and ambitious companies.  Frozen french fries are a good example, the United States produces very high quality fries, and as tariffs are eliminated under the DR-CAFTA agreement there will be expanded demand for high quality potato products.  Because of DR-CAFTA, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua have eliminated tariffs on U.S. frozen french fries already, and the Dominican Republic will phase-out its tariff by 2010.  In Costa Rica, the United States faces a 41% tariff, much higher than the tariff paid by U.S. competitors in Canada.  If Costa Rica implements DR-CAFTA this tariff will be phased out.  An important step towards meeting this demand is to provide traders and users of potato products in the region with information on maintaining product quality, logistics, and grading standards - the key subjects of the recent seminar.


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 DR-CAFTA agreement.  This project was managed by AFJ staff including Sharon Sydow (agriculture policy expert) Jason Hafemeister (formerly the lead agriculture negotiator for the DR-CAFTA agreement), and Jose Carlos Sarmiento (regional manager for AFJ in Latin America.)