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American Shipper

Latin trade agreements move forward

Latin trade agreements move forward

U.S. House and Senate leaders this week reached an agreement to extend the long-standing Andean trade agreement, which covers Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia, for another eight months, through February 2008.

   The House approved the extension on Wednesday and the Senate was expected to follow suit before Saturday.

   In addition to the extension of existing trade benefits, there are still separate trade agreements in the works for Peru and Colombia.

   Stephanie Lester, vice president, international trade for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said that although her association welcomed the Andean trade extension, there is still a need for unilateral agreements.

   'Unilateral preferences (like the Andean agreement) are no substitute for the comprehensive two-way trade benefits that the pending free trade agreements with Peru and Colombia would bring. I urge Congress to approve those agreements this year,” Lester said.

   Meanwhile, the U.S. signed a new trade agreement with Panama Thursday that opens the Central American country for more U.S. exports and puts U.S. companies on a level playing field to bid on government projects.

   That agreement drew praise from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

   “This agreement is front-loaded, ambitious, and comprehensive, and it promises considerable benefits to both the United States and Panama,” said Lt. Gen. Daniel W. Christman, Chamber senior vice president for international affairs.

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