Colombia has agreed with the U.S. to reform its labor laws and crack down on violence against unions, clearing the way for the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to present a free trade agreement to congress.
According to the website of television network Bloomberg, Colombia’s implementation of labor protections is a “precondition for the agreement to enter into effect,” the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a statement Wednesday morning.
The announcement of the agreement was predicted by several media on Tuesday hours after Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Washington and Bogota had made “strong progress” in the process leading to the presentation of the FTA before congress.
The trade deal has been stalled since its signing in November 2006 due to concerns by Democratic lawmakers over labor rights in Colombia and the ongoing violence against labor rights workers in that country.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, currently in New York for a U.N. Security Council meeting, announced less than a week ago that his government did not object to U.S. demands to reform labor laws and protect unionists.
“We have no problem signing or committing ourselves to defending the workers’ rights, because we believe in that,” Santos said Thursday.
According to Kirk, exports to Colombia could increase by $1.1 billion if the FTA takes effect.