The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., that the government intends to approve the free trade agreements (FTA) with Colombia and Panama “this year,” El Espectador reports Tuesday.
During a hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, Clinton professed the Obama administration’s support for the passage of both trade agreements before the end of the year.
The U.S. politician avoided a question about why Colombia is not included as one of the stops on President Obama’s forthcoming Latin American trip, in which he will visit Brazil, El Salvador and Chile between March 18 and 23.
She did, however, state that the U.S. government maintains “close relations” with President Juan Manuel Santos and his government, noting that he is doing an “extraordinary job” and that the two governments are working to ensure that the U.S. Congress approves the FTA.
The Colombian FTA has been long stalled since it was signed in 2006. The agreement would remove trade tariffs between the two nations but has been met by strong opposition in the U.S., primarily from labor unions, who argue that Colombia has not done enough to ensure the protection of human rights activists and union leaders.