Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said Thursday his nation has made considerable improvements in protecting the rights of trade unionists, and that the U.S. should recognize this and ratify its pending free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia..
Uribe had hoped that the FTA – which he signed with former U.S. President George W. Bush in 2006 – would be ratified before he leaves office on August 7.
U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce and International Trade Francisco Sanchez has given Colombia further guarantees that the FTA will be passed by the U.S. Congress, but added that it will take time.
Maria Angela Holguin, who was appointed by President-elect Juan Manuel Santos as Colombia’s next foreign minister, said that she is confident that U.S. Congress will pass the FTA, but that it would take about a year to do so.
The FTA has been on hold since the U.S. Democrats gained a congressional majority in 2007. The Democrats have applied pressure against the Colombian trade deal on the grounds of labor and human rights concerns, and because they think an FTA poses a threat to American jobs.
Mauricio Reina, technical secretary for Colombia’s Mission for Foreign Policy said that Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos must work to win over the U.S. Democrats, who present the main opposition to the FTA.