The U.S. Undersecretary for International Trade said Thursday that he “doesn’t know when” his nation’s Congress will pass the pending free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia, but he has “complete confidence” that it will be approved.
“The FTA is something that President Barack Obama is committed to bringing to Congress, and I have complete confidence that we will get it ratified,” undersecretary Francisco J. Sanchez told Colombian media on Thursday.
Sanchez also reiterated previous remarks from U.S. officials that internal Washington politics are to blame for the delay, explaining that the U.S. Congress has been working on “resolving many [other] issues” that have not afforded them the necessary space to deal with the FTA.
Colombia had been pushing hard to get the FTA passed by the U.S. Congress prior to President Alvaro Uribe leaving office.
In late April, however, Colombia’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Luis Guillermo Plata, returned from a trip to the U.S. expressing doubts that the FTA would pass within the remaining 100 days that Uribe had in office.
“Unless there is political will from the White House, I do not see a FTA within these 100 days that the [current Colombian] government has left.”
Despite Sanchez’s confidence that the FTA would be passed, he “could not say when.”
Last month, U.S. House of Representatives majority leader Steny Hoyer said that it was doubtful that the house would vote this year on the bill.
The U.S.-Colombia FTA was originally signed in 2006 by the George W. Bush administration, but has been put on hold since the Democrats gained a congressional majority in 2007. Democrats, and their allies in organized labor, are generally more wary of free trade deals. They oppose the Colombian trade deal on the grounds of labor and human rights concerns, and becaue of the danger they think an FTA poses to American jobs