logo logo

US-Andean countries

In May 2004, the US began negotiations with Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to reach some form of FTA with the three Andean countries — and later, if US plans worked out, Bolivia as well.

According to initial media reports, “There are three different scenarios under discussion about how to structure the free trade agreement with the US. The first would be one plurilateral agreement between the four countries. The second would be individual bilateral agreements between the US and each of the three Andean countries. The third would be an agreement between the three Andean Community of Nations (CAN) members, who have obligations within CAN, and the US. The US prefers the arrangement used in the CAFTA agreement, i.e. one plurilateral agreement among all parties. This option is not viable through CAN because not all CAN members are involved in this FTA process with the US. Therefore, according to the head of the Colombian delegation, what may emerge is a plurilateral agreement between the US and a special bloc comprising Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.“

Since then, a number of special tensions have marked these FTA discussions. One is that the Andean countries have been reluctant to go beyond their WTO obligations in terms of intellectual property rights. The governments have kept expressing strong concerns about biodiversity, traditional knowledge, and access to medicines. Another overwhelming concern has been with regard to agriculture, where the Andean countries are reluctant to liberalize their markets on bilateral terms if the US will not agree to reduce domestic subsidies. An underlying concern has been how the FTA would interact with Andean Community law; that is, which of the two would take precedence.
Regarding the US side, Washington’s lack of flexibility has been pointed out by many as a hallmark of the process. For that reason, many people refuse to call these “negotiations“.

Indigenous peoples, farmers’ organizations, labour unions, and other social movements have been heavily mobilizing to stop this FTA. The FTA has been seen from the start as a thorough capitulation to US economic and geopolitical interests. In Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, different sectors have pushed for national referenda on the FTA in their respective countries — and on several occasions organized their own.

In late September 2005, the US issued an ultimatum to sign an agreement by 20 November 2005 — before the 2006 electoral process in all three Andean countries and the mid-2007 expiry of Bush’s “fast track“ trade negotiating authority. No agreement was reached by end November, with Colombia and Ecuador holding back on several grounds and Peru saying it would proceed alone.

Since Peru signed a bilateral trade deal with the US in December 2005 and bilateral negotiations continuing with Colombia as of that date (until the US-Colombia deal came into force in March 2012), information on subsequent events is presented separately under US-Peru and US-Colombia.

As to Ecuador, Quito’s cancellation of a contract with Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) in May 2006 sounded the death knell for negotiations around a US-Ecuador FTA. With this decision, the government of Ecuador obeyed its law and the demands of the majority of Ecuadorans, who had been calling for an end to the negotiations and for Oxy’s departure.

last update: May 2012

US House set to vote on extending Andean trade preferences
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on a plan to extend trade preferences for Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia for eight months.
Ecuador pursues trade-preference extension but faces critics in Congress
Ecuador is furiously lobbying members of Congress to extend trade preferences, set to run out at the end of the month, that are intended to counter narcotics trafficking.
Congress weighs future of Andean trade scheme
U.S. lawmakers have begun talks on whether to extend a 15-year-old trade preference program for Andean countries while free trade deals with Colombia and Peru remain up in the air, congressional aides said on Wednesday.
Trade future isn’t rosy in Ecuador
Washington might decide this summer not to renew the trade benefits that allow Ecuador to sell roses and other items duty-free to the United States. As many as 250,000 jobs are at risk in Ecuador’s flower industry alone.
Ecuador maintains no to free trade with the US
The visit of US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte to Ecuador has reconfirmed the government of Rafael Correa’s rejection of negotiating a free trade agreement with Washington, reported Prensa Latina.
Congress urged to OK Peru, Colombia FTAs
The U.S. State Department’s No. 2 official on Thursday expressed hope that free trade agreements with Colombia and Peru will be approved soon by the U.S. Congress.
Ecuador not renewing pact with US
Ecuador’s new leftist president has decided not to renew a bilateral investment treaty with the United States, the country’s foreign minister said Monday, just days before a senior US official is due to visit.
Peru, Colombia and Panama lobby for US free-trade pacts
As crunch time nears, Peru, Colombia and Panama have embarked on a nearly unprecedented lobbying effort to salvage their free-trade agreements with Washington.
Deputy USTR eyes Andean trade deal soon
The Bush administration hopes to reach a deal with U.S. lawmakers in the next 10 days that would pave the way for approval of free trade pacts with Peru, Colombia and Panama, a top U.S. trade official said on Wednesday.
Correa brings hope to Ecuadorians
When Ecuadorians went to the polls on Nov. 26 they collectively said no to neoliberalism as they voted overwhelmingly for maverick candidate Rafael Correa over billionaire banana tycoon Alvaro Noboa.