Free Trade Agreement Would Benefit United States and Colombia

February 17, 2011

A free-trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Colombia has been stalled in the U.S. Congress for more than four years since it was signed in November 2006.  Proponents of the agreement argue that it will promote U.S. exports and deepen our ties with a key democratic ally in South America.  Opponents in Congress and the U.S. labor movement contend that the Colombian government has not done enough to curb violence against trade unionists.  If enacted, the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement would eliminate barriers to billions of dollars of U.S. exports, according to Juan Carlos Hidalgo, project coordinator for Latin America at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, and Daniel Griswold, director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies, at the Cato Institute.

The pending trade agreement would eliminate about three-quarters of the duties on industrial and agricultural goods immediately.  Almost all other duties would be phased out over 5 to 10 years, with a few stubborn agricultural tariff-rate quotas hanging on for 19 years.  The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the agreement would boost U.S. exports by an additional $1.1 billion after full implementation.

A free-trade agreement with Colombia would achieve a number of worthy U.S. policy objectives, say Hidalgo and Griswold.

  • An agreement would reduce significant barriers to U.S. exports to a major Latin American market, moving the United States closer to meeting President Obama's goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2014.
  • It would remove uncertainty over Colombia's access to the U.S. market, aiding that country's efforts to develop its economy and reduce poverty.
  • And it would strengthen civil society in Colombia, reinforcing the efforts of the country's new reform-minded government to reduce violence even further and to bolster the nation's already robust democracy in the face of antidemocratic forces in the region.

Source: Juan Carlos Hidalgo and Daniel Griswold, "Trade Agreement Would Promote U.S. Exports and Colombian Civil Society," Cato Institute, February 15, 2011.

For text:

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=12783

 

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