Colombian Vice President: FTA with U.S. Benefits Both Countries

By Dialogo
January 21, 2011

Speaking on the eve of a visit to Washington, Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzón said on 19 January that a free-trade agreement (FTA) signed with the United States in 2006 and still unratified by that country’s Congress benefits both countries and is not a unilateral gift.

“It’s necessary to reiterate that when we’re talking about signing the FTA, we’re doing it on the basis that here the United States wins and Colombia wins,” Garzón said upon announcing that he will travel to Washington on 23 January for a week-long working visit.

“It’s not a matter of personal favors or unilateral gifts; here it’s a matter of a mutually beneficial agreement, like those that Colombia is making with other countries,” specified the vice president, who will seek while he is in Washington to promote Congressional approval of the trade agreement, he said.
Garzón will also seek a two-year extension of Andean tariff preferences (ATPDEA), an official statement indicated.

For that purpose, Garzón plans to meet with Democratic and Republican members of Congress and with representatives of the U.S. administration, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Labor Secretary Hilda Solís, as well as with his U.S. counterpart Joseph Biden, the statement added.

Colombia is seeking the extension of the preferences, which benefit Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru in recognition of their fight against drugs, after the U.S. Congress renewed them for only six weeks on 22 December.

The United States is Colombia’s chief trading partner, and the tariff preferences cover 50% of its exports to that country.

In Washington, the Colombian vice president will also engage in dialogue with union spokespersons, business leaders, and non-governmental human-rights organizations, the statement indicated.