Posted by Adriaan Alsema on Aug 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Santos ‘fortunately’ not in Obama’s position

Juan Manuel Santos and Barack Obama

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said he “fortunately” is not in the position of his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama, who, unlike Santos, is facing heavy opposition in Congress.

In an interview with Associated Press, Santos said that “fortunately, I’m not in President Obama’s position. I’m fortunate to have 95% of the Congress with me,” the President reportedly said smiling.

According to Santos, the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in Washington, and Obama’s difficulty to have legislation passed through Republican resistance is costing the U.S. money south of the border.

“American products are being replaced in the Colombian market because other countries have free-trade agreements. If the FTA is not approved shortly, the U.S. will continue losing market share,” Santos said in an interview with magazine Americas Quarterly published online Friday.

“So it is in the interest of the U.S., and of course in our interest, that the FTA should be approved as soon as possible,” the President added.

According to Santos, Washington has lost influence in Latin America because of the U.S. debt ceiling discussion that only just avoided a default of the U.S. government last week.

Colombia and the U.S. signed their FTA in 2006, but the treaty has not been ratified by U.S. Congress, initially because of Democrat resistance over Colombia’s human rights situation and later because of Republican resistance over Obama’s initiative to protect American workers from foreign competition.