Congress extends ATPA for six weeks
The U.S. Congress on Wednesday approved a six-week extension of the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA), originally due to expire on Dec. 31.
ATPA was enacted in December 1991 to provide duty-free treatment for eligible imports from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. In return, the countries work with U.S. authorities to stem the flow of illicit narcotics manufacturing and trafficking to the United States. Bolivia was suspended from ATPA benefits in December 2008.
Trade groups representing a variety of industries, including energy, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, mining and financial services, have lobbied for ATPA's extension, citing both U.S. job creation and reductions in illicit drug shipments from these countries.
According to a December 2010 Office of National Drug Control Policy report, pure cocaine produced in Colombia over the past several years has fallen significantly — from an estimated 700 metric tons in 2001 to only 270 metric tons in 2009.
Colombia is one of the biggest beneficiaries of ATPA. 'The renewal, until February 15th, 2011, of the Andean Trade Preference Act, ATPDEA, comes as important and encouraging news in light of the current conditions that the people of Colombia are facing as a result of devastating floods,' said Gabriel Silva, Colombian ambassador to the United States, in a statement.
'We are grateful to the overwhelming majority of members of Congress from both parties and the private sector who worked hard on behalf of the bill's passage,' he said. 'We hope that the administration and Congress continue to open the door toward a stronger, more dynamic trade relationship, through the approval of a longer extension for ATPA, and the subsequent approval of the FTA (free trade agreement) between both countries.'