One of the first tasks for Colombia’s new ambassador to the U.S., Gabriel Silva, will be to kick-start the stalled U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement (FTA), newspaper La Republica reported Wednesday.
In an interview with W radio Wednesday, Gabriel Silva said that he is confident that the U.S. will approve the free trade pact.
“Colombia is a country which sees itself as an economic force in the medium term (…) Colombia’s exports are worth 40 billion dollars,” he said.
The bilateral treaty, which provides for the reduction of duties and other obstacles to trade, was signed by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and former U.S. President George Bush in 2006. However, while Colombia’s Congress was quick to pass the treaty, U.S. Congress is yet to ratify it.
The Bush administration submitted the agreement to Congress in April 2007, but it was not rubber-stamped before the end of the Congressional session in December 2008.
During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama opposed approving a trade deal with the Andean nation while crimes against Colombian trade-union leaders remain unprosecuted. As president, Obama has expressed a willingness to push the deal through, provided that Colombia meets certain human rights conditions. Recently however, Obama has promised swifter progress.
Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos nominated Silva Tuesday to be Colombia’s ambassador to the US. The 51 year-old is currently defense minister in the Uribe government, but will take up his post in Washington after the inauguration of the Santos administration on August 7.