Today, the Obama administration announced that the Colombian government has agreed to do more to crackdown on violence against union leaders in an effort to move forward on the U.S.-Colombian free trade agreement. This is welcome news for supporters of the long-stalled agreement, originally negotiated under the Bush Administration.
As noted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Senators Baucus and Kerry, failure to move forward on this agreement has placed the U.S. further behind countries in South America, Asia, and Europe as those regions continue to expand exports to Colombia, as the U.S. loses its share of the Colombian market.
Immediately after approval and enactment of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, over 80% of U.S. exports to Colombia would enter Colombia duty-free and remaining tariffs would be phased out within a decade. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates this would increase U.S. exports by $1 billion. American farmers and ranchers in particular will benefit from the abolition of Colombian duties on agricultural and meat products.
Furthermore, a U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will strengthen an already close relationship with a reliable ally of the United States. The Colombian House and Senate have overwhelmingly endorsed this agreement, and popular support runs high. Legitimate economic opportunities stabilize nations plagued by narcotics trafficking, organized crime, and terrorism like Colombia.
This agreement has broad bipartisan support and with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos set to meet with Obama on Thursday to hash out an agreement, there is no excuse for further delay in enacting this trade pact.