The Colombian flower industry has sent lobbyists to Washington to persuade U.S. congressemen to aprove a free trade agreement with Colombia and renew a number of other economic measures that would encourage trade between the two nations.
The flower industry wants Washington to pass a free trade agreement with Colombia as well as extend the Andrean Trade Preference and Drug Eradication Act (ADTPDEA) which eliminated tarrifs for a number of Colombian exports, including flowers, in an effort to persuade Colombians to find economic alternatives to drug trafficking.
Since the ADTPDEA expired in March duties on Colombian flowers rose 3.2 to 6.8%, costs that florists say have been carried by customers.
Colombia is the second largest exporter of flowers in the world and a significant source for the U.S. flower market. In 2006 Colombia accounted for 59% of all flowers imported the United States. The U.S. currently imports 79% of its flowers.
The free trade agreement is currently in mock markups and is on track for
a vote in Congress. The agreement has faced criticism from union leaders and opposition in Congress from conservative lawmakers who do not wish to pay for a job retraining program that will provide vocational training for Americans who loose their employment. Congress is expected to vote on the agreement soon.