Colombia should focus on improving trade ties with its neighbors as a free trade agreement with the United States is not going to be approved soon, the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) said in an interview Monday.
According to the IADB President, Colombian Luis Alberto Moreno, U.S. domestic political issues like the health care reform issues and U.S. interests in the Middle East make it seem that Colombia has disappeared off U.S. President Barack Obama’s political priority list. While this is not the case, Colombia should not wait for an FTA with the U.S. and improve trade with its neighbors.
“What we have seen regarding the FTA is that it has nothing to do with U.S. foreign policy and has everything to do with the (political) base of the Democrats, which has to do with the unions. Nobody understands this, because it’s absurd,” Moreno told newspaper El Tiempo.
The IADB President added that less than half of the Americans now support free trade, making a passing of the Colombia FTA more unlikely.
“According to a poll by the Wall Street Journal, 52 percent of Americans no longer believe in free trade. Since there is almost nothing being produced in the U.S. and the service sector, the most important part of the U.S. economy, has competition in Asia and India,” said Moreno, adding that “now is the time to look at the neighbors.”
“The (Colombian) President (Juan Manuel Santos) did what he had to do; finding a better relationship with (Venezuelan) President (Hugo) Chavez. This is fundamental for trade issues. Colombia can not be in conflict with Venezuela, because it is too complex for us,” Moreno said.
Stronger ties with U.S.-critical Venezuela will not endanger ties with Washington, said the IADB director.
“Everyone understands that Colombia has multiple fronts to attend. But apart from Venezuela … we must look towards Asia and start looking at Africa. Brazil has done so in a very successful way. There are African countries growing in a very interesting rate,” Moreno said.