U.S. Free-Trade Agreement With Colombia Goes Into Effect

Colombia becomes the third country in South America to have a free-trade agreement with the United States.

The U.S.-Colombia free-trade agreement took effect May 15. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, addressing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the trade agreement, which immediately eliminates tariffs on 80 percent of the products traded, will benefit both countries. “This is good news for U.S. entrepreneurs, workers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers who are ready to export more U.S. goods and services to Colombia’s growing market,” he said. “Similarly, it’s good news for Colombia, which stands to gain in terms of economic growth, jobs and permanent access to the world’s largest market, here in the United States.”

The Obama administration expects the new free-trade agreement will expand U.S. exports by $1.1 billion a year and increase the U.S. gross domestic product by $2.5 billion.

In 2011, the United States exported $14.3 billion in goods to the South American country. Colombia is a large importer of U.S. grain, and it exports a large quantity of flowers and tropical fruits to the United States.

In terms of apparel, the United States imported $263.5 million in textiles and apparel from Colombia in 2011, compared with $291.8 million in 2010, and shipped $165.2 million in textiles and apparel to Colombia in 2011, compared with $123.7 million in 2010. 
The other South American countries with a free-trade accord with the United States are Peru and Chile.

Implementation of the U.S.-Colombia free-trade accord comes shortly after the launch of the U.S.–South Korea free-trade agreement on March 15. A free-trade deal with Panama was passed by Congress last year along with the trade pacts with Colombia and South Korea. The Panama trade agreement still awaits implementation.—Deborah Belgum