Colombia will focus on other export markets if the U.S. does not ratify a pending free trade deal with the Andean nation, according to President Juan Manuel Santos, who says the patience of the Colombian people is running out.
Colombian exporters on Saturday suffered a big setback when the term of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) ended and a temporary extension was sunk by Republican lawmakers, who demanded either a full-blown free trade agreement beneficial to exporters of both nations or nothing. This preference act had allowed Colombian businesses to export many products to the U.S. duty-free.
An FTA would allow both American and Colombian exporters to enjoy duty-free exports.
“If the FTA isn’t approved this year, we will not continue to insist,” said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Sunday. Instead, his country will be looking for “other markets” because “life goes on without this FTA.”
Santos condemned Washington’s attitude towards Colombia. “They could have treated us better. For them, [the joint counter-narcotics initiative] Plan Colombia was a success story. But the FTA is painful. I understand explanations that deal with internal political problems, but the majority of the people are running out of patience,” Santos was quoted as saying by W Radio.