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Schwab continues press for Colombia FTA

Schwab continues press for Colombia FTA

   U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab says a free trade agreement with Colombia is a leading priority for the United States in 2008.

   Schwab, in a speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, said the Colombia agreement will be the first thing on the legislative agenda this year, and argued that those who are advocating for 'fair' trade should look to the pending trade agreements Colombia and Panama.

   She stressed the Colombia agreement would improve two-way trade between the United States and Colombia, improving market access for U.S. exporters of manufactured goods and agricultural products. The agreement would also pave the way for U.S. service businesses in Colombia.

   Noting past Latin American trade agreement were negotiated in part to reduce drug smuggling and broaden Latin American economic opportunities, Schwab said that security has improved dramatically in Colombia since the last trade agreement was implemented. The murder rate in Colombia is at the lowest level in 20 years, kidnappings are down more than 80 percent since 2001, and drug kingpins are being extradited to the U.S. in record numbers.

   She added that economic growth in Colombia will continue as security conditions improve.

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