FTA advances as Colombia fulfills US requirements

[Source – Colombia Reports]

U.S. government officials announced that they are ready to discuss technicalities of the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia, as the country has implemented appropriate labor rights protection measures, newspaper Semana reported Wednesday.

U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk informed the finance committee that his team is ready to work on the two documents needed for ratification of the FTA by Congress, which has been pending since 2006. He added that Colombia has satisfactorily complied with the April 22 deadline for implementing labor rights measures.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said he has been waiting a long time for this news. “We will do everything possible for Congress to approve it (the FTA) as quickly as possible,” he added.

In April, President Barack Obama and President Santos created a plan of action in which Colombia agreed to adopt a number of measures to increase protection of labor rights by the end of the month, before the FTA approval process could move forward.

A second set of U.S. requirements must be adopted by the Colombian government before June 15, in order for the approval process to reach a conclusion. If everything continues as planned, the U.S. Congress will discuss and vote on ratification of the agreement within the next two months.

In the meantime, the Colombian president is working on garnering enough support in his home country to gain full FTA approval.