U.S. President Barack Obama said his nation plans to move forward the U.S.’s free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia, in an address on export policy at the Export-Import Bank’s annual conference.
“We’re going to strengthen relations with key partners, specifically South Korea, Panama, Colombia, with the goal of moving forward with existing agreements in a way that upholds our values,” said the president.
Obama’s comments come amid growing exasperation from Colombia over the U.S.’s reluctance to seal the deal on the agreement.
Colombia’s Trade Minister Luis Guillermo Plata Tuesday asked the U.S. to “be sincere and tell us if the free trade agreement is going to go ahead or not.”
“More than three years have passed without the FTA being signed and we are still not on the U.S.’s agenda, nor has a date been set for when the agreement will be brought before [U.S.] Congress,” Plata said.
Plata said Colombia hopes to receive as soon as possible a list of recommendations which the U.S. has promised to give in order to help the Andean nation resolve labor rights concerns that are blocking the FTA’s approval.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told the U.S. Senate Finance Committee last week that Colombia will be provided with “a finite list of what we’d like to see get done.”
The free trade pact signed by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and former U.S. President George W. Bush in 2006 has been stalled in U.S. Congress due to concerns about violence against labor rights activists in Colombia.