The United States is granting an extension of unilateral trade preferences for certain products from 4 nations in South America. "Opening markets benefits our trading partners," President George Bush said in signing the Andean Trade Preferences Act for Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia on October 16. "It will help people have a better way of life."
U.S. lawmakers first approved the act, known as the ATPA, in 1991. The arrangement allows certain goods from the 4 nations to enter U.S. markets without import tariffs, giving them a price advantage over similar products from other nations. Last year alone, the value of these goods was over $21 billion. "With this, our nation is demonstrating our commitment to continued economic growth in our hemisphere and a global system based on free and open trade," Mr. Bush said.
The President also used the occasion to call on Bolivia to step up its efforts in the war on drugs, following findings that that nation, the world's third largest producer of cocaine, isn't living up to its international obligations to fight drug trafficking. As a result of this failure, the President has proposed suspending Bolivia’s receipt of preferences. However, with Congress’ move to extend the program, Bolivia retains the possibility of receiving the trade preferences once it resumes cooperation and meets its counter-narcotics responsibilities.