U.S. and Colombia reach free trade agreement

FEB. 27, 2006 9:46 A.M. ET
The United States and Colombia have concluded a trade agreement to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to goods and services flowing between the two countries.

The agreement was announced Monday by U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and Jorge Humberto Botero, Colombia's minister for trade, industry and tourism.

"The free trade agreement with Colombia will generate export opportunities for U.S. agriculture, industry and service providers and help create jobs in the United States," Portman 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 May 2004, the United States initiated free trade agreements with three Andean nations -- Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Agreement was reached with Peru in December 2005 and negotiations with Ecuador are continuing. Bolivia has participated as an observer and could become part of the agreement.

Colombia becomes the 15th country to sign a free trade agreement with the United States since 2001 and negotiations are under way or about to begin with 10 more countries.

The Bush administration is anxious to complete as many trade agreements as possible before July 1, 2007, when it loses the ability to do such accords without having to present them to Congress for approval.

In 2005, the United States and Colombia had $14.3 billion in trade, and Colombia is currently the second largest agricultural market for the United States in Latin America.

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