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Colombian govt seeks acceleration of FTA with US

Colombia Reports | Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Colombian govt seeks acceleration of FTA with US

Brandon Barrett

The Colombian government filed a bill to hurry through implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, reported local media Tuesday.

The agreement, which would eliminate some tariffs and widen market access to the US, is intended to be finalized by the end of the Summit of the Americas, to be held in Colombia April 14 and 15.

Colombian Interior Minister German Vargas Lleras, accompanied by the minister of Foreign Trade and the minister of New Technologies, filed the bill in the Senate Tuesday.

"All this is with the view of implementing the Free Trade Agreement as soon as possible," Vargas Lleras told newspaper El Espectador.

The bill’s introduction comes after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and US leader Barack Obama had a brief telephone conversation Monday.

According to El Espectador, Obama has praised Santos’ decision to finalize the agreement "as soon as possible."

The FTA has stalled in the past partly due to criticisms from American politicians and Colombian trade unions that Colombia has not addressed its human rights concerns, caused by alleged abuses at the hands of neo-paramilitary groups and, to a lesser extent, guerrilla organizations such as the FARC and the ELN.

The European Union endorsed an FTA with Colombia and Peru Friday. The agreement awaits ratification from the union’s national parliaments.

 source: Colombia Reports