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US-Colombia

On 27 February 2006, the United States and Colombia reached a Trade Promotion Agreement whose negative impacts were immediately subjected to severe criticism by civil society. The perks granted to the US by the new FTA, especially concerning agriculture and national treatment, rapidly became public knowledge.

One controversial provision concerned quotas on “special” agricultural products that are allowed to enter Colombia in limited quantities without tariffs from the very first year of the FTA; these quotas were increased at the signing of the agreement. Furthermore, the US insisted on Colombia’s acceptance of beef from cows over 30 months, a latent animal and human health risk due to the possible entry of “mad cow” infected animals.

The agreement was approved by the Colombian Congress over the opposition of the Polo Democrático Alternativo and the Colombian Liberal Party. The U.S. Congress later emerged as its chief opponent, rejecting the treaty after the Democratic Party won majorities in both houses and adopted a more aggressive stance on Bush administration policies.

The Democrats argued that the Uribe government had not done enough to curtail the paramilitaries’ crimes against humanity. Colombia, they said, should first put an end to violence against trade unionists and peasants, and indict politicians implicated in the “paragate” scandal (collusion with the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces and with drug trafficking mafias).

A vote on the deal was put off in April 2008 after President Bush sent the corresponding bill to Congress despite a recommendation against this move on the part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi sought a change to the House rules to prevent the fast-track timetable from kicking in.

In Colombia, opposition has remained firm in recent years, with various sectors mobilizing heavily to resist the FTA. The most recent large-scale mobilization was the “Minga,” in which indigenous people from all over the country traveled thousands of kilometers to Bogotá to reject the FTA, among other demands. Many other sectors of Colombian society signed on to the indigenous mobilization.

Despite the continuing resistance, the Colombian government benefitting from an improved image under President Santos (even though the policies and problems of the Uribe administration persist) won the approval for its FTA with the United States from the US Congress on 10 October 2011. It entered into force on 15 May 2012. Putting this FTA into motion required the approval of more than 15 regulations in the form of laws or decrees to bring Colombia legislation into line with the FTA on issues such as intellectual property, safeguards and tariffs.

last update: May 2012


In Colombia, free trade brings more poverty and more killings
Colombian unions and farmers opposed the free trade agreement strongly, and today hold it responsible for increasing poverty while fostering a climate in which corporate rights are paramount and labor rights hardly exist.
Santos’ FTA promises prove false; Colombia’s exports to US drop 15.5%
A promised increase in exports to the United States as a result of a free trade agreement has failed to materialize as exports contracted 15.5%, according to Colombia’s statistics agency.
Colombian workers’ rights still among the worst, two years after US trade pact
he Labor Action Plan was supposed to protect workers, but many leaders see "blatant disregard" for labor protections in Colombia.
A struggle for survival in Colombia’s countryside
The source of this uprising lies in policies not up for discussion in the country’s current peace talks: the impact of the US-Colombia FTA – implemented in May 2012 – and policies that have similarly afflicted Colombian campesinos (small-scale farmers).
Nationwide protests rage against Colombia’s economic policies
A strike declared nearly two weeks ago in Colombia by farmers and joined later by truck drivers, health workers, miners and students spread to include protests in the cities before mushrooming into a general strike Thursday, demanding changes in the government’s economic policies.
’970’ asks why Colombia is confiscating farmers’ rice and dumping it in the garbage
In the midst of a nationwide agrarian strike, a documentary about a new law criminalizing farmers for the centuries old practice of saving the best seeds and using them for the next crop is igniting debate about the treatment of the country’s farmers.
Colombia nationwide strike against ’free trade,’ privatization, poverty
At least 200,000 people blocked roads and launched protests against a US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and devastating policies of poverty and privatization pushed by US-backed right-wing President Juan Manuel Santos.
Cargill flouts law to secretly build land bank in Colombia
Investors started arriving in droves when Colombia and the US negotiated and signed a free trade agreement in May 2012 and they are now looking to acquire land.
The horrific costs of the US-Colombia trade agreement
Wallach, who has been studying such agreements for twenty years with Global Trade Watch, says she has never seen the merging of a trade agreement with terror like this. Not on this scale.
FTA with USA has harmed Colombia, Senator says
A year after the free trade agreement with the United States came into effect, the balance for Colombia is negative: we export less and import more, affirmed senator of the Alternative Democratic Pole Party Jorge Enrique Robledo.