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Colombia congratulates Peru on free trade deal with US

Dow Jones Newswires

Colombia Congratulates Peru On Free Trade Deal With US

By Shumita Sharma

8 December 2005

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Colombia’s government congratulated Peru on closing a free trade deal with the U.S., but said some of the issues that it has regarding a similar agreement with the U.S. still need to be resolved.

A statement on the Web site of Colombia’s Trade Ministry said the "special features of Colombia and our productive system requires additional fine tuning in the issues that are still open to negotiation."

But the ministry added that Colombia aims to end a deal in the "near future" in a satisfactory way so that it can share the opportunities generated by commercially integrating with the world’s largest market, referring to the U.S.

The U.S. and three Andean nations - Colombia, Ecuador and Peru - began free trade talks in May 2004. But while Peru and the U.S. completed negotiations, there has been a delay in Colombia and Ecuador arriving at a deal.

Last month, Hernando Jose Gomez, Colombia’s top negotiator, said his country wants the U.S. to soften its position on agriculture and intellectual property before talks can be resumed.

In the statement, Colombia’s Trade Ministry said the country’s negotiating team is aware that the free trade agreement is an opportunity for Colombia’s development and that it would promote growth, open new opportunities for employment and offer local consumers better alternatives.

Excluding the North American Free Trade Agreement, Colombia is the largest purchaser of U.S. agricultural exports in the Western Hemisphere.

The Andean nations collectively represented a market of about $7 billion for U.S. exports in 2002, according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. The stock of U.S. foreign direct investment in the Andean countries was $4.5 billion in 2002.

 By Shumita Sharma,