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Monday, May 21, 2007
Commentary
COUNTRY REPORT

Approve Colombia FTA Now

The U.S. Congress should approve the free trade agreement with Colombia quickly and without any further delays.
MR. URIBE GOES TO WASHINGTON: Colombian president Alvaro Uribe at the US Congress May 3, where he met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other key Democrats. (Photo: Cesar Mauricio Velasquez/SNE)

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BY CHRONICLE EDITORS


The Bush Administration and leaders of the Democratic party recently reached a bipartisan agreement that would enable passage of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Peru.

However, there are some very disturbing signals out of Congress indicating that the Democrats may not approve the Colombia FTA any time soon. It would thus get caught up in the 2008 presidential election campaign, which would likely delay its passage further.

 

That would be a grave mistake. While the FTAs with Panama and Peru will benefit companies in those countries as well as the United States, the positive results will be even stronger when the U.S. FTA with Colombia is passed and implemented.

 

Colombia is today the fifth-largest U.S. trading partner in Latin America. By comparison, Peru is the eighth-largest trading partner and Panama ranks in 14th place. 

 

US AND COLOMBIA BENEFITS

 

Although U.S. companies are very happy doing business in Colombia thanks to the successful policies of the current administration of President Alvaro Uribe, only an FTA with the United States will provide the needed investment and trade guarantees for the future.

 

An FTA will lead to U.S. exports to Colombia nearly doubling by 2010, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Many U.S. companies will likely also expand manufacturing facilities in Colombia for exports to other Andean countries, thanks to the country’s central geographical position, well-respected labor force and strong local economy.

 

For Colombia, the FTA will provide badly-needed guarantees for the future as well. Currently, Colombian exporters of cut flowers, textiles, coffee and other key items have to depend on duty-free access through the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA). However, the ATPDEA is limited in time and scope. It will expire in July after being renewed for six months. Even if Congress approves another extension, it’s hardly the necessary framework for Colombian exporters to operate in. They also need to invest in facilities and make long-term decisions and only a U.S. FTA will provide the needed guarantee of permanent, long-term access to the key U.S. market.

 

HUGO CHAVEZ

 

Then there’s the political dimension. Not approving a U.S.-Colombia FTA sends a very negative signal to any country in Latin America that wants to boost business relations with the United States. Even if the Panama and Peru FTAs are approved, not passing the Colombia FTA will be seen as a blow to free trade throughout Latin America.

 

And this just as the region is facing the growing influence of anti-U.S., anti-business populists like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

 

We therefore strongly urge Congress, including Democrats, to approve the free trade agreement with Colombia and do so quickly and without any further delays.


                                © Copyright Latin Business Chronicle

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From: Larry Mitchell

Alpine, TX
I agree that our Congress should approve the FTA agreement with ANY Latin Country. First, it's simply "good business" for "rational business people." Second, the Dictator Chavez needs to be [seen] as the "NEW CASTRO"--and details should be published about how the Venezuelan people are already suffering from Chavez.

From: Philip

Westminster
NAFTA is a major disaster for the USA. Have we not learnt anything from the past mistakes? Mexico has taken the reins of the USA. Now we want other countries also to reign over our sovereignity. It is time to say NO to any other trade agreement. It will be better for the USA to withdraw from even the NAFTA which will protect the interests of USA.

From: Unmundofeliz

Colombia
The free trade agreement means the transfer of wealth from colonies to the empire.

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