U.S. starts Andean free-trade agreement negotiations
The Bush administration started free-trade negotiations this week with four Andean countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
The administration believes that a trade pact between the United States and the Andean countries will generate new business for both sides. It will also help the United States in its war against drug smuggling from the Andean region.
Since 1991, the Andean region has enjoyed preferential access to the U.S. market through the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA). The cut flowers industries of Colombia and Ecuador and Peru’s asparagus industry have both benefited from the trade legislation.
In August 2002, Congress renewed the ATPA and expanded its coverage to other products. Between 2002 and 2003, Ecuador’s exports of processed seafood to the United States increased 10 percent and apparel exports from Peru increased 31 percent. Colombia’s exports of apparel to the United States increased by 47 percent. Similar exports from Bolivia increased 85 percent during the same period, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The Bush administration hopes to complete a free-trade agreement with the Andean region before the ATPA expires again on Dec. 31, 2006.