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Schwab, Conner to Lead Congressional Delegation Visit to Colombia

October 31, 2007




WASHINGTON DC - U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab
and Acting U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner announced today they will
lead a congressional delegation to Colombia November 2-4 as part of the
Administration's efforts to help educate Members of Congress about the progress
under Plan Colombia, advances in democracy and human rights in Colombia, and the
importance of our free trade agreement with this strong Latin American

“The Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) provides an
historic opportunity to deepen and strengthen economic ties with one of the
United States’ staunchest allies in the Western hemisphere,” said Ambassador
Schwab. “Members of Congress need to see first-hand the impressive gains
Colombia has made in recent years in
curtailing violence and creating economic opportunities.  I am confident
the more lawmakers know about this country’s courageous move toward democracy
and open trade, the more they will see how this agreement will benefit the
people of both countries.”

“Obvious trade benefits for U.S. agricultural producers in
this $870 million a year market will be achieved through immediate elimination
of variable tariffs with half our exports entering duty-free as soon as the
agreement is implemented and most tariffs phased out in 15 years, all by 19
years,” said Conner.  “In turn, Colombia, our largest South American trade
partner will gain permanent market access to U.S. markets and benefit from trade capacity
building programs that will greatly enhance Colombia’s
ability to participate in the global marketplace.”

The CTPA will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to
goods and services, promote economic growth, and expand trade between the
United States and
Colombia.   It will level
the economic playing field for U.S. farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and
service providers who have faced barriers to Colombia’s market while Colombia has enjoyed duty-free access to the
U.S. market under trade preference

The trip will provide members of Congress with a unique
opportunity to learn about the government’s success in bringing about stability
and economic growth and how the CTPA will contribute to additional

Schwab, Conner, and members of the congressional
delegation will meet with President Alvaro Uribe, who has spearheaded efforts
against paramilitary groups and drug traffickers and implementing
market-oriented economic policies.   They will meet with members of
the business community and civil society, including union leaders, demobilized
combatants, proponents and opponents of the CTPA.


The United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement was
signed on November 22, 2006 in Washington, D.C.  On June 28, 2007, the
United States and
Colombia signed a Protocol of
Amendment revising the Agreement to reflect the bipartisan consensus on trade of
May 10, 2007.

America’s two-way trade with Colombia reached $16 billion in 2006, making
Colombia our fifth largest
trading partner in Latin America and our largest export market for
U.S. agriculture products in
South America. In 2006, total
U.S. goods exports to
Colombia reached $6.7 billion.

The CTPA will further open this dynamic and growing
economy to American goods and services.   It will provide particular
benefits to U.S. farmers and
ranchers by immediately eliminating Colombia’s duties on high quality
beef, cotton, wheat, soybeans, key fruits and vegetables, and many processed
foods upon entry into force of the agreement.

The U.S. market is already open to imports from
Colombia. In 2006, for example, 92
percent of U.S. imports from
Colombia entered the
States duty-free under our most-favored nation
tariff rates and various preference programs, such as the Andean Trade
Preference Act (ATPA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The
U.S.-Colombia trade agreement will give American businesses, farmers, ranchers,
and workers similar access to this important market.

This is the third trip by Members of Congress to
Colombia led by Cabinet officials
this fall.  Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez led two previous
information-gathering visits.

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