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Statement

Release No. 0092.08
Contact:
Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

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STATEMENT BY THE SECRETARY ON THE COLOMBIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT

April 7, 2008

"Today, the President signed a letter to Congress that will transmit legislation implementing the U.S. Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Congress needs to move forward with approving this agreement.

"For more than a year, this Administration has been seeking to work closely with Congress to identify a bipartisan path to bring legislation to implement this agreement up for approval. Without implementation, American farmers loose. It is time for fair and equal two-way trade with Colombia.

"Colombia is the largest market for U.S. agriculture exports in South America. In 2007, the United States exported a record $1.2 billion of agricultural products to Colombia.

"However, current tariffs between the United States and Colombia are one-sided, as 99.9 percent of Colombian food and agricultural exports enter into the United States duty-free while no U.S. agricultural exports to Colombia receive duty-free treatment. It is time for the U.S. to be on a level playing field with Colombia.

"Under the Free Trade Agreement, the United States will receive equal or preferential treatment on all key products under the agreement.

"Upon implementation, over 70 percent of U.S. agricultural products will immediately receive duty-free treatment. The remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 15 years.

"Approval of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement is good for American farmers. The President, this Administration and I are committed to seeing that Congress acts on this very important legislation. It's the right thing to do for America's economy and for American farmers."