The United States and Colombia have reached a final agreement on the pending free trade agreement that had originally been signed over four years ago. According to the Wall Street Journal, a deal has been brokered between Bogota and Washington that has resolved the primary issue of labor rights in Colombia that has been blocking the movement of the FTA.
President Obama made the announcement on Wednesday and will now send the agreement to Congress for their approval.
"The cattle industry can breathe a sigh of relief today as the Colombia agreement finally gets the long overdue attention it deserves," said NCBA President Bill Donald. "This agreement has collected dust for well over four years while our trade competitors proactively sign, seal and deliver trade pacts. Most recently, Canada finalized an agreement with Colombia while we watched from the sidelines."
Ag groups are praising the forward movement of the U.S.-Colombian Free Trade Agreement and are urging swift action to catch up with Canada, who finalized their deal with Colombia last week and could implement it by July 1.
"In light of today's good news, I am hopeful Congress will be able to ratify this much needed agreement with Colombia in the near term," said U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Dorr. "The Council, U.S. producers and agribusinesses look forward to a strong trade relationship with Colombia."
According to Colin Woodall, NCBA vice president of government affairs, the Colombia TPA is one of the best negotiated free trade agreements to-date. Woodall said he is confident the agreement will be ratified.
"We have a new Congress and staunch supporters of free trade on both sides of the aisle who are energized and committed to stabilizing and expanding the U.S. economy. A sure fire way to do that is to get moving on the pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea before we officially sign over U.S. market share to our competitors," said Woodall. "Debate will occur and some will once again try to derail progress on the Colombia trade pact but I am confident this agreement will move through the 112th Congress."
The U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement will expand U.S. goods exports alone by more than $1.1 billion and give key U.S. goods and services duty free access in sectors from manufacturing to agriculture. It will increase U.S. GDP by $2.5 billion and support thousands of additional U.S. jobs.