Deputy USTR Sapiro Addresses Trade, Labor Progress One Year into Agreement between U.S. and Colombia

By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs

This week, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro spoke on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the entry into force of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event entitled “Growth, Jobs, and Opportunity for the United States and Colombia: The U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement on its First Anniversary.” In the course of her remarks, Ambassador Sapiro addressed the new opportunities stemming from increased market access and the elimination of regulatory barriers under the Agreement.

Ambassador Sapiro at U.S.-Colombia anniversary event

Ambassador Sapiro highlights the development and opportunities of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion
Agreement on its one-year anniversary. 

Ambassador Sapiro discussed the significant growth of U.S. exports to Colombia across many sectors in the past year. From May 2012 through March 2013, U.S. goods exports to Colombia totaled $15.9 billion, up 20 percent from exports during May 2011 through March 2012. The past year’s manufacturing exports to Colombia include increases of 46 percent in petroleum and coal products, 61 percent in transportation equipment, and 17 percent in computer and electronic products. U.S. Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) that export have benefited from the elimination and lowering of trade barriers like burdensome customs procedures, non-transparent regulatory regimes, and other barriers to market access.

Prior to entry into force of the agreement, Ambassador Sapiro said, Colombia was already the second largest purchaser of U.S. agricultural products in South America, but the improved access afforded by the trade agreement has opened the market even further. From May 2012 through March 2013, U.S. exports of agricultural products to Colombia increased by 62 percent, with strong export growth in soybeans, wheat, grapes, pork, and dairy products. She explained that the Agreement provided a vehicle for both countries to engage on key outstanding issues related to the U.S.-Colombia agricultural trade relationship, and has helped resolve longstanding regulatory issues that had impeded greater bilateral trade.

Ambassador Sapiro commended the Colombian Government for making strides in improving the observance of labor rights, protecting workers from violence, and prosecuting perpetrators of violence, but she noted that challenges remain. Sapiro told the audience that the U.S. Government will continue to engage with Colombia in support of the ongoing implementation of its Labor Action Plan commitments, and its labor-related obligations under the trade agreement.

Since the agreement’s entry into force, the Colombian Government has been pursuing sound policies to promote market openness and competitiveness, and has been rewarded with expanded trade. The one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement, observed on May 15th, underscores the strengthening of the U.S.-Colombia relationship, and the enormous potential for trade growth between the two countries.