US: Colombia trade deal ready by year-end

The Obama administration reiterates its plans to resolve remaining issues with the Colombian free trade agreement (FTA) by the end of 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Wednesday that the U.S. government plans to have the FTA ready for congressional consideration by the end of 2011.

Addressing the Senate, Kirk said, “I am committed to working with you to address the concerns identified this year and to prepare the [Colombia] agreement for congressional consideration immediately thereafter.”

Colombian Ambassador Gabriel Silva said Tuesday, in regards to the agreement, “we believe we can work constructively and quickly with the administration and the U.S. Congress to address the outstanding issues.”

According to a Colombian official, however, no new discussions have occurred between the two governments since a visit two weeks ago by a U.S. delegation.

Former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria Trujillo said recently that by refusing to sign off on the deal the U.S. is “discriminating against Colombia.”

Business and trade groups from both countries have increased pressure on the U.S. administration to complete the agreement, which was signed by both governments during the Bush administration but remains unratified.

In this year’s State of the Union address, in January, President Obama offered no timeline for ratification.

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