(Photo: Colombia’s President Santos and President Obama,
CARTAGENA, Colombia—U.S. officials said Sunday that a free-trade agreement with Colombia will go into effect on May 15, boosting the prospect of U.S. exports to this Andean nation.
“Colombia has passed those laws and regulations necessary in order for the free-trade agreement to enter into force,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “This is a significant milestone.”
The agreement had been pending for several years before the Obama administration submitted it to Congress, which ratified it last year.
The announcement will be officially made at a news conference Sunday afternoon after the conclusion of the Summit of the Americas.
In order to complete the agreement, the Colombians were required to pass several pieces of legislation, and lawmakers were scrambling to do so in order to announce the agreement while U.S. President Barack Obama was here for the summit. Colombia also had to take certain steps to protect workers’ rights and guard against violence toward labor-union leaders. U.S. officials said those conditions had been met.
The free-trade agreement has broad support in the business community, though many U.S. union leaders have expressed concerns. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the trade announcement “deeply disappointing and troubling.”
“It signals to average Colombians that their struggles are not our struggles. Rather than insisting that the Colombian government honor its promises to Colombia’s working class, our government signaled with today’s decision that a little improvement is good enough,” Mr. Trumka said in a statement.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said Sunday that the U.S. would continue to work with Colombia to improve its labor record.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has predicted the trade deal would create more than 250,000 jobs and serve as engine of economic growth in his country. He said it would increase Colombian exports by 6% and boost U.S. investment in Colombia.
(Modern skyline of Sao Paolo, Brazil. Photo: Lalo de Almeida for The New York Times, source: nytimes.com)
Latin America has become one of the motors driving the world’s recovery from multiple economic crises, Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), said here on Friday.
“This region managed to defeat hyperinflation and reduce poverty,” Moreno told a meeting of business leaders on the sidelines of the Sixth Summit of the Americas. “In addition, it represents 14 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. And seven of the world’s top importers of manufactured goods are in Latin America.”
The meeting was attended by representatives of some 500 major companies in Latin America. A main source of multilateral financing in Latin America, the IADB supports efforts by countries in the region to reduce poverty and inequality and achieve sustainable development.
According to Moreno, Latin America is keeping its annual growth rate steady at around 14 percent and could double its per capita income by 2030, reducing poverty to just 10 percent of the regional population.
“We are facing a new middle class which will represent some 500 million people with spending power by 2030,” he added.
Meanwhile, Latin America also faces a number of challenges to fully tap its economic potential, noted Moreno, citing infrastructure as a major challenge.
“The first step is to connect up the value chains with communications and transport links, and to do so fairly,” Moreno said.
Intra-regional trade, which currently only accounts for some 19 percent of Latin America’s total trade volume, also needs to be further boosted, added the IADB chief, pointing to the fact that Asia boasts an intra-regional trade ratio of 40 percent.
The Sixth Summit of the Americas, hosted by Colombia’s Caribbean resort city of Cartagena, brings together leaders of 33 countries in the Western Hemisphere to discuss common policy issues and regional challenges. The leaders’ meetings will take place on Saturday and Sunday.
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(Photo credit: ideastations.org)
(from IdeaStations.org) Former NASA Astronaut Dr. Franklin Chang-Diàz told a story about turning hopes and dreams into reality. It’s a story the retired astronaut, mechanical engineer and physicist knows well, since his own career keeps taking off!
Chang-Diàz spoke at the Science Museum of Virginia with students from the Museum’s Out-of-School Time partner agencies, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, Higher Achievement, the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Passport to Education program and Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Peter Paul Development Center. The first Hispanic to go into space and the first naturalized American astronaut, Chang- Diàz has been to space seven times and he has walked in space three times. His is currently CEO of his own company designing a plasma-based rocket to take a manned rocket to Mars. He hopes his story can inspire students to achieve their dreams.
Watch the video below:
NASA Hall of Fame Astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz Speaks at Science Museum of VA to Hispanic students & families
(Former NASA astronaut and record holder for most space shuttles, Franklin Chang-Diaz with Hispanic students in VIrginia as part of the VAHCC Foundation “Passport to Education” program. Photo credit: VAHCC)
(Richmond, Va.) Astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz, NASA record holder for the most space shuttles (seven), spoke yesterday at the Science Museum of Virginia to address Hispanic students and families as part of the VAHCC Foundation’s “Passport to Education” program to decrease the Hispanic drop-out rate.
“The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation is happy to welcome to Richmond first Hispanic Astronaut in space Dr. Franklin Chang Diaz,” says Lisa Zajur, who has helped bring this event to Virginia. “His accomplishments have inspired many Hispanic students into the areas of science and technology.”