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Colombia, Ecuador: more talks needed for FTA with US

Colombia, Ecuador: more talks needed for FTA with US


WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 (Xinhuanet) — Colombia and Ecuador decided on Tuesday to break off their free trade talks with the United States for now, saying that more rounds of talks are needed.

Colombia’s chief negotiator, Hernando Jose Gomez, told reporters that Bogota and Washington might resume talks before the end of this year to finish the deal.

"There is a desire from the part of the United States and Colombia to try to finish this negotiation by the end of the year, if possible," he said.

"Obviously, the areas that need more work from both parties are IPR (intellectual property rights) and agriculture," he added.

Ecuador’s chief negotiator, Manuel Chiriboga, said his country and the United States had agreed to meet in early 2006 to finish the deal.

The two sides deeply disagree on agricultural issues, with Washington pushing Quito to open markets in sensitive sectors such as rice and dairy while refusing to cut its import tariffs, he said.

Peru, which had previously said its deal with the United States was nearly complete, now remains the only one still negotiating within the framework of the ongoing round of talks.

The three Andean states and the United States started negotiating a free-trade pact in May 2004 to replace the Andean Trade Preferences and Drug Eradication Act, which expires at the end of 2006.

 source: Xinhua