“U.S.-Colombia Trade Pact Is Set” from The Wall Street Journal Online
(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.