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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
Photo: Public Citizen


Colombia to start new FTA approval lobby
Colombia’s Vice President Angelino Garzon will travel to Washington to lobby the ratification of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the US and Colombia, Caracol Radio reported on Tuesday.
Republicans threaten Colombia trade preference deal
Republicans in the US Senate are trying to block the extension of a trade preference agreement which allows many Colombian goods to enter the country duty-free.
Assembly approves resolution to oppose Colombia free trade agreement
Yesterday, California state legislators took action to block the trade agreement with Colombia by voting to approve Assembly Joint Resolution 27, which urges the US Congress to oppose the Colombia Free Trade agreement.
Obama and “free trade:” eight items of note and one obvious conclusion
From this recent history of Obama’s words and deeds with regards to “free trade” we should expect an offensive, similar in scope and scale to the US military escalation under way around the world, to obtain passage of the Colombia FTA, starting probably right after the November mid-term elections.
Third farm bill hearing focuses on trade policy
The agriculture community heard directly from U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk recently on trade priorities that have stalled despite their importance to the industry’s market share around the world.
US Trade Delegation Makes SOS Trip to Columbia
More than 100 industrialists from the US are touring Columbia to identify potential areas of trade, and maximize their business prospects under the new regime before it is too late as the new president of Columbia is equi-distant in ideology with all schools of thoughts in the Americas.
Canada-Colombia FTA puts critical US wheat market at risk
The Canadian parliament has ratified a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia that gives a major competitor an immediate price advantage in a market where US wheat exports had earned a dominant market share, says the US wheat industry
Steelworkers object to free trade agreement as report reveals Colombia remains most dangerous for unionists
The International Trade Union Confederation has just announced its annual findings regarding global anti-union violence. Again, Colombia topped this list, accounting for nearly half of all the union killings in the world.
Colombia: UN worried about trade agreements
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights warned in its latest meeting of the negative impact of free trade agreements on the most vulnerable part of Colombia’s populace
Uribe pushes for US trade vote before leaving office
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is pushing President Barack Obama to win congressional approval of a long-delayed free trade deal before Uribe leaves office in August, the top Colombian trade official said on Wednesday.