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Colombia Free Trade Agreement: An American Victory

JINSA Report #: 

October 14, 2011

On Thursday, with strong bipartisan support, Congress approved the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. This was a welcome and long overdue step toward both strengthening the American economy and to furthering democracy and the rule of law in a country that still has serious challenges to overcome.

JINSA has supported the passage of this agreement since it was first sent to Congress in 2008 (see JINSA Reports #758 and #759). Most recently, in May 2011, JINSA's Board of Directors passed a Resolution that moved to:

  • Strongly encourage the leadership in Congress to take up and ratify the FTA as a matter of economic policy, but also as a way to assure the Colombian government - and other friends in the region - that the United States intends to remain focused on their economic and security concerns.

  • Strongly encourage the Administration to remain focused on the economic and security issues that confront Colombia, a long-time American ally.

As a condition of the Act's passage, the JINSA Board of Directors noted last May that:

American opposition to ratification has had several incarnations, but most recently is focused on what opponents consider unacceptable levels of violence in Colombia generally and against trade unionists in particular; but whereas the Government of Colombia has pledged to increase its protection specifically of union organizers, while it also works to consolidate security control of the country.

We are most pleased, therefore, that the White House and Congress agree that Colombia has made significant and positive steps to reduce violence and ensure protections for trade unions and their membership, all while extending the government's authority to large portions of the country formerly under the control of the narco-terrorist FARC.

The nexus between terrorism and criminal organizations in South America has long concerned JINSA (see JINSA Reports #479 and #501), as have inroads made there by China for economic and diplomatic gain and by Iran for purposes of money laundering and terrorism support.

Passage of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement levels the economic playing field so that American exports to Colombia will now be competitive with those of other nations that have been benefitting from their own free trade agreements with Bogota. It also reinforces America's commitment to promoting greater free trade and democracy throughout Latin America.

Much more remains to be done. The United States must reinvigorate its ties to its friends in Latin America, which have been allowed to wither in recent years. We must act vigorously to counteract the anti-democratic, anti-U.S. influence of Venezuela and Cuba to improve America's trade prospects with the Latin American region and especially with Brazil, a surging regional power and the world's seventh largest economy.

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