Canada Beats U.S. to the Punch on Colombia Trade Deal

By June 11, 2008Trade

Overlooked the big news of the weekend, “Canada, Colombia reach free-trade agreement.”

Canada has reached a free-trade agreement with Colombia that Ottawa says will improve market access for both nations’ agricultural products, as well as industrial goods and services.

The deal “will expand Canada-Colombia trade and investment, and will help solidify ongoing efforts by the Government of Colombia to create a more prosperous, equitable and secure democracy,” David Emerson, Canada’s foreign affairs and international trade minister, said in a news release on Saturday.

And give Canadian companies a competitive edge over U.S.-based companies in exporting their products to the Colombian market.

Also, from the Canadian’s government official release, on the question of human rights and labor issues:

“This agreement, like the one that was signed by our government in Peru last week, contains some of the most comprehensive labour provisions to be found in any agreement anywhere in the world,” said the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour. “As the Colombian government moves forward to strengthen labour rights after a difficult past, Canada will be there to help. We believe that agreements for free trade and labour cooperation are powerful tools that can bring prosperity to workers.”

And from Commerce Secretary Gutierrez in a statement yesterday on May’s increase in U.S. exports:

While the U.S. Congress stands still on pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, our global competitors are opening markets and moving forward. Just over the weekend, Canada concluded free trade negotiations with Colombia. Once the Colombia-Canada Free Trade Agreement is ratified, American workers, farmers and ranchers will be at a competitive disadvantage in Colombia due to tariffs that will no longer apply to Canadian products. Congress must pass the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement to allow American exporters to compete on a level playing field with their Canadian competitors.


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