Colombia’s Ambassador Silva Shows How Delaying the Trade Agreement Hurts US-Colombia Relations
Colombia’s Ambassador Gabriel Silva told a Washington, D.C. crowd at the NDN New Policy Institute that Colombia has been waiting a long time for the US-Colombian Trade Promotion Agreement (“TPA”) to be approved.
He reminded the audience that Colombia is a major US export market for agriculture. It is also a major supplier of coal and petroleum. However, Colombia’s low-margin exporters (such as the cut flower industry) were seriously hurt by the US Congress’s failure to extend the Andean Trade Preferences Act. Coupled with the Administration’s delays in submitting the TPA for approval by Congress, he at one point volunteered that Washington should strive to be more loved than feared in its foreign policy.
He responded to labor and human rights concerns by pointing out that the TPA already has human rights provisions in it. He also noted that the Colombian Congress voted down a proposal to disband labor cooperatives, and has passed legislation and is considering more to guarantee land reforms.
Answering questions about the prospects for approval of, Ambassador Silva told the audience that its text is closed and will not be reopened. He is uncertain whether there will be any more meetings with US Trade Representative’s office.
Addressing prospects for passage on the Hill, Ambassador Silva pointed out that Colombia has many friends, both Republicans and Democrats. There is a convergence with both parties to finish the agreement.
With President Obama about to start a Latin American tour that does not include Colombia this year, Ambassador Silva told the press that President Santos has no plans to come to visit Washington, D.C. at this time. He does, however, have plans to go to China. And, he will come to New York for a UN session to show his country’s solidarity on Haiti.