The free trade agreement between the US and Colombia is due to take effect in the middle of May, after the two countries this week completed the necessary legal requirements for the pact to come into force.
In particular, they have “successfully implemented” the key elements of an action plan on labor rights that was deemed necessary before the trade deal could come into force.
“[This] agreement is a win for both our countries,” said President Barack Obama. “It’s a win for the United States by increasing our exports by more than $1bn, supporting thousands of US jobs and helping to achieve my goal of doubling US exports.
“It’s a win for Colombia by giving you even greater access to the largest market for your exports – the United States of America. And I’d add that this agreement is a win for our workers and the environment because of the strong protections it has for both – commitments we are going to fulfill.”
However opponents, including Representative Mike Michaud, chairman of the House Trade Working Group, believe “the fight to improve workers rights in Colombia – which has the highest rate of violence against unionists in the world – is a long-term effort and should have been prioritized over implementation of the agreement.”
Once the free trade agreement with Colombia goes into effect on May 15, over 80% of US exports will become duty free immediately, with remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years. Colombia will immediately eliminate duties on products including cotton.