Colombian news site El Tiempo asked the nation’s presidential candidates if they were president, would they pressure the U.S. to approve the pending free trade agreement (FTA) between the two nations.
“I probably would. The FTA conslidates inter-dependance, it helps us to specialize and favors long term investment. In the same way, it clarifies which sector of the U.S. labor market will benefit from trade with Colombia, and above all, which sectors of the [Colombian] labor market will benefit from trade with the U.S.,” Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus replied.
“Yes. Instead of having a passive or defensive attitude towards the links between trade, and political and social conditions in our country, our government should assume an active stance, in a coordinated manner. Colombia’s Foreign Ministry should actively participate in FTA negotiations, above all through political dialogue with our potential business partners,” Partido de la U’s Juan Manuel Santos said.
“Yes, because with the FTA many jobs will be created. These agreements open new permanent markets for our exports and assure more foreign investment, more better paid jobs and the incorporation of new technology. I wouldn’t just insist on the FTA with the U.S., but also with our countries, since we are convinced of the necessity to integrate Colombian in the world,” Conservative Party candidate Noemi Sanin replied.
“Rather than demand its approval without consideration, there needs to be a renegotiation of this FTA. A new agreement must be created that provides just terms for the nation, especially in reference to labor laws, the agricultural sector and the environment. FTAs which establish deals to protect investment or which have unjust terms, should be denounced,” Polo Democratico’s Gustavo Petro commented.
“FTAs help us to achieve higher levels of development. That’s why it will be a priority to continue working on bipartisan criteria for the approval of the FTA with the U.S. Colombia doesn’t have the luxury to waste the enormous opportunity that a market of 300 million inhabitants and a GDP of $14 trillion,” said Cambio Radical’s German Vargas Lleras.
“The FTA has already been negotiated. Its approval will benefit the country… New options for our products need to be opened up in other countries and continents, not just in the U.S. Asia is a good option and Colombia should take advantage of its geographical position to strengthen the trade of our products,” the Liberal Party‘s Rafael Pardo said.
The U.S.-Colombia FTA was originally signed in 2006 by the George W. Bush administration, but has been put on hold since the Democrats gained a congressional majority in 2007. Democrats, and their allies in organized labor, are generally more wary of free trade deals. They oppose the Colombian trade deal on the grounds of labor and human rights concerns, and becaue of the danger they think an FTA poses to American jobs
Colombians will head to the polls to elect their next president on Sunday May 30.