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Last Updated:[11-08-2010 08:24:12 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

US Trade Delegation Makes SOS Trip to Columbia

tradenews More than 100 industrialists from the US are touring Columbia to identify potential areas of trade, and maximize their business prospects under the new regime before it is too late as the new president of Columbia is equi-distant in ideology with all schools of thoughts in the Americas. Juan Manual Santos, the 59th president of Colombia, though had vowed to continue his predecessor's business-friendly economic policies, which had a US-centric face, the delay in the US-Columbia FTA is feared to surrender business to other players in the region.

Already the recently concluded Canada-Columbia FTA has adversely impacted the US wheat exports. The agreement has given Canada an immediate price advantage over the US wheat, which hitherto enjoyed a dominant market share in Columbia. The thaw in Columbia-Venezuela ties with a visit by Santos to Venezuela signals that the number of players in the Columbian marketplace is bound to rise rapidly in the coming days.

The business team is understood to have held meetings with the Bogota Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Commerce; and would proceed to Cali, Medellin, Barranquilla, the coffee region, and other key industrial areas of the country. The US commercial representative in Colombia, Margaret Hanson earlier had expressed a desire to see the stalled FTA between Colombia and the US ratified since the Latin American nation already had open access to the US market for almost all its products but the US did not have backwards - so in terms of common sense, it was hoped that the FTA should happen soon.

Likewise, Colombia's new ambassador to the US Gabriel Silva said that one of his first tasks would be to kick-start the FTA talks, and added that his country regarded itself as an economic force in the medium term as Colombia's exports were put at $40bn. The trade deal, which involves the reduction of customs duties and other obstacles to trade, was signed by the former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and the former US President George Bush in 2006. While Colombia's Congress was quick to pass the treaty, the Obama administration has yet to ratify it.

During his presidential election campaign, Barack Obama opposed approving a trade deal with the Andean nation since crimes against the Colombian trade-union leaders remained unprosecuted. As president, Obama has expressed a willingness to push the deal through, provided that Colombia meets certain human rights conditions.

Colombia is believed to provide scope for investments in sectors including plastics, textiles and food stuff. According to Hanson, the delegation comprises of representatives from the security sector, construction, food, plastics, and also a financier who funds companies, particularly the SMEs.

By Jose Roy

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