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NFTC Urges Prompt Approval of U.S.-Colombia FTA
Date: 9/15/2009
Written By: Jennifer Cummings, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, 202-822-9491

Says Immediate Passage of Agreement Would Recognize Countrys Achievements and Lead to Continued Progress

Washington, DC -  The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) today responded to a request for comments published in the Federal Register by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative regarding the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In expressing support for approval of the FTA, the NFTC highlighted the remarkable strides Colombia has made after nearly being written off as a failed state less than a decade ago, including restoring the rule of law, strengthening democratic institutions, growing a dynamic economy and ensuring that all workers are able to exercise their fundamental labor rights.

Though the questions included in the request were focused more on the issue of labor than the merits of the agreement, based on the NFTCs review of comments posted as of this afternoon, the overwhelming majority were positive, said NFTC Vice President for Regional Trade Initiatives Chuck Dittrich. We think this is an encouraging sign and hope that this consultative process will help the Administration work with the Government of Colombia to set the benchmarks that have been discussed since the beginning of the year. The FTA is in the economic and diplomatic interests of both countries, and we urge the Administration to set forth a plan for approval of the agreement.

In its submission, the NFTC noted the progress Colombia has made since 2002 to combat the scourge of violence associated with illegal drug trafficking and to reform judicial procedures and reduce impunity.

Colombia is a success story, and like all nations, including the United States, continues to face challenges. Our nations have worked together for decades to confront issues of shared concern, from fighting the war on drugs to finding ways to spur economic growth and development, said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. There is no doubt that Colombia is one of the United States most important democratic allies in the region, and it is critical for us to continue to work together to ensure that the progress President Uribe has achieved is sustained. One clear way to do this is to provide the people of Colombia with economic opportunity, and the FTA offers an chance to enhance our economic ties to the benefit of both nations.

In response to the questions posed in the request for comments regarding Colombias labor framework, the NFTC pointed out, The constitutional and statutory protections that protect Colombian workers are based on the International Labor Organizations (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Colombia has ratified 60 ILO Conventions, including all eight fundamental labor rights conventions. Detailed legal and regulatory reform continues to implement these fundamental workers rights, and this year the ILO recognized Colombia as a case of progress.

Immediate passage of the FTA recognizes the achievements to date of the comprehensive strategy of the government of Colombia, developed in consultation and cooperation with the U.S., to bring this country from the brink of becoming a failed state threatened by a terrorist insurgency and powerful drug cartels, to a vibrant nation with the restored institutional integrity capable of implementing the continued labor rights progress being sought by both the U.S. Administration and the current government of Colombia, wrote the NFTC.

The NFTC concluded, Aside from the financial, developmental, and security reasons to support Congressional approval of the FTA, there is the matter of U.S. credibility. After participating in negotiations, signing a free trade agreement, and witnessing it being overwhelmingly approved by the Colombian government, U.S. inaction affects the United States credibility as a trusted partner. Currently, the U.S. is in a position to dispel these fears and make significant financial and strategic gains by approving the United States Colombian FTA. Therefore, the National Foreign Trade Council urges prompt approval of the U.S-Colombia FTA.

To read the full text of the NFTCs comments, clickhere. (www.nftc.org/default/trade/FTA/NFTC Comments on Colombia FTA.pdf)

To review all submissions to the Federal Register, click here.

About the NFTC

Advancing Global Commerce for 95 Years - The National Foreign Trade Council is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.

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