WASHINGTON – Following meetings between President Bush and Colombian President Alvaro
Uribe, the United States and Colombia announced today that free trade negotiations between the
two countries, and possibly other Andean countries, will begin May 18-19. U.S. Trade
Representative Robert B. Zoellick joined in the meeting, and afterward met with President Uribe
and Jorge Humberto Botero, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, to discuss U.S.-
Colombian trade issues, the launching of the FTA negotiations, the ongoing Free Trade Area of
the Americas (FTAA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha negotiations.
Larger U.S.-Andean Free Trade Area Envisioned As Other Andean
Countries May Participate
"The United States has been busy completing top-notch FTAs with our neighbors in the
hemisphere, so we are delighted that Colombia and other Andean countries want to work with us
to remove barriers for our farmers, workers, exporters and businesses," Zoellick said. "I was
honored to attend President Uribe’s inauguration in August 2002 on behalf of President Bush,
and I’m pleased that our countries will be working to deepen our economic ties and friendship."
"Colombia’s courageous fight against narco-trafficking terrorists that threaten democracy and
regional stability can be assisted by promoting economic development and hope. President Uribe
recognizes the interconnection among security, economic opportunity and liberty, and we want
to help Colombia to succeed," added Zoellick. "A U.S.-Colombia FTA will benefit both
countries, but in particular will complement and advance Colombia’s economic reforms and
promote investment. Similarly, the inclusion of other Andean countries in the negotiation would
expand benefits beyond the U.S.-Colombia relationship and would foster additional reform and
economic development in the region."
In his November 18, 2003, letter notifying Congress of the Administration’s intent to negotiate a
U.S.-Andean FTA, Zoellick indicated that we will initiate negotiations with the countries that
have demonstrated their readiness to begin. In that regard, the Peruvian Government has
intensified its efforts in recent weeks to resolve outstanding disputes with U.S. investors, in a
manner consistent with Peruvian law. Similarly, we are discussing with the Government of
Ecuador the steps it needs to take to address certain concerns regarding both the protection of
worker rights and investor disputes. We hope that in the coming weeks these countries will take
the follow-on steps that will enable us to include them at the negotiating table, along with
Colombia, at the start of the negotiations. We look forward to including Bolivia at a later stage,
and are working with them to increase their readiness.
In addition to President Uribe’s inauguration, Zoellick has visited Colombia on two other
occasions as USTR. In March of 2002 he gave remarks at a business conference hosted by
President Pastrana in Santa Marta, and in August 2003 he met with President Uribe to discuss the
prospects for an FTA agreement.
Colombia is the oldest democracy in Latin America, having become independent on July 20,
1810. In 2003 U.S. goods exports to Colombia were $3.8 billion. The stock of U.S. foreign
direct investment (FDI) in Colombia in 2002 was $3.7 billion. The four Andean countries
collectively represent a market of about $7 billion for U.S. exports, and are home to $4.5 billion
in U.S. foreign direct investment.
The United States is aggressively working to open markets globally, regionally, and bilaterally
and to expand American opportunities in overseas markets. In a January 2004 letter to the 146
WTO members, Zoellick urged Members to revive the global trade talks and conducted an
around the world trip February 11-20, visiting 9 cities for strategic consultations. These cities
were Tokyo (Japan); Beijing (China); Singapore, Islamabad (Pakistan); New Delhi (India); Cape
Town (South Africa); Mombasa (Kenya); Geneva (WTO headquarters) and Paris (meetings with
EU Trade Commissioner Lamy).
Immediately following that trip, Zoellick traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica for meetings February
23-24 with ministers from the Cairns Group of agriculture exporting countries to discuss
liberalizing trade in agriculture within ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) trade
In addition to the global efforts, a top goal for the United States is the FTAA negotiation to create a $13
trillion, 800 million person Western Hemispheric free trade zone stretching from Alaska to
Tierra del Fuego. Comprehensive, high-quality agreements that promote regional economic
integration (Chile, CAFTA) with like-minded, ambitious trading partners, complement and
provide impetus for the FTAA negotiations.
On March 15, 2004, the United States completed FTA market access negotiations with the
Dominican Republic. It will be added to the recently concluded CAFTA. The U.S. has
completed FTA’s with eight countries - Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Australia and Morocco - over the past few months. New and
pending FTA partners, taken together, would constitute America’s third largest export market
and the sixth largest economy in the world.