President Obama used the occasion of the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena to announce that the long-delayed U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will go into effect on May 15. Colombia has improved its protections for organized labor, the last requirement negotiated by side agreements after the original agreement was first signed (in November 2006).
The opportunities for U.S. exports are substantial under the FTA. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative issued a release that summarized the many advantages for the United States.
On May 15, over 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia will become duty-free, including agricultural and construction equipment, building products, aircraft and parts, fertilizers, information technology equipment, medical scientific equipment, and wood. Also, immediately more than half of U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Colombia will become duty-free, including wheat, barley, soybeans, high-quality beef, bacon, and almost all fruit and vegetable products.
The Agreement also will provide significant new access to Colombia’s $180 billion services market, supporting increased opportunities for U.S. service providers. For example, Colombia agreed to eliminate measures that prevented firms from hiring U.S. professionals, and to phase-out market restrictions in cable television.
Business Roundtable issued a statement today lauding the pending implementation and urging President Obama to move ahead with the U.S.-Panama FTA, as well.
More statements, news coverage ...
Bloomberg, "Obama Criticizes Coverage of Summit of the Americas"
Retail Industry Leaders Association, "RILA Praises Announcement of Entry into Force of U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement"
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "U.S. Chamber Hails Announcement on U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement Entry-into-Force"
Des Moines Register, "Soybean growers cheer Colombian trade agreement"
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), "Hoeven: Free Trade Agreement Opens Doors in Colombia For North Dakota Businesses," announcing a fall trade mission.