After nearly two years of negotiations, the United States and Colombia have concluded a comprehensive free trade agreement. The two countries agreed to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods and services.
In a written statement, Rob Portman, the U.S. Trade Representative, said, "The agreement will help foster economic development in Colombia, and contribute to efforts to counter narco-terrorism, which threatens democracy and regional stability." In his statement, Mr. Portman also said, "In addition to eliminating tariffs, [under the F-T-A] Colombia will provide a secure, predictable legal framework for U.S. investors operating in Colombia, provide for effective enforcement of labor and environmental laws, protect intellectual property, and provide an effective system to settle disputes."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan says that President George W. Bush and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe were pleased with the accord:
"This comprehensive agreement will enhance economic growth and prosperity between the United States and Colombia and will generate export opportunities for our agricultural products, manufacturing and service providers. Since many products from Colombia already enter the United States market duty-free, this agreement will help level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers, farmers and ranchers."
In 2005, the value of trade between the U.S. and Colombia exceeded fourteen billion dollars. Forty percent of Colombia's exports go to the U.S. Colombia is currently the second-largest agricultural market for the U.S. in Latin America. Top exports from the U.S. to Colombia in 2005 included machinery, organic chemicals, and plastic. The agreement must now be approved by legislatures in the U.S. and Colombia.
Mike Johanns, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, says, "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."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.