Colombian trade deal with US in the balance

The proposed free-trade agreement between Colombia and the United States has stalled in the US Congress. The success and stability of Colombia and the Pan-American region depend on the US’s ability to recognise the importance of this agreement to the United States, to Colombia's economy, to human rights progress and to enhanced U.S. national security, says Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired Army general and an adjunct professor of international affairs at West Point, and U.S. drug czar from 1996 to 2001.

Colombia has made great strides in recent years, but, encountering difficulties as with any entity undergoing tremendous change. Approving the free-trade agreement would enable Colombia to continue on its positive course.

There are three reasons this agreement is necessary, says McCaffrey.

  • Colombia is an independent, free-market, democratic and long-standing ally of the United States; the value of a relationship with such a strategically located country cannot be underestimated.

  • Failure to pass the agreement would cast Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan regime as the best alternative model for Latin America. Such a choice would weaken Colombia's thriving democracy.

  • The terms of the agreement would further decrease unemployment by 2 per cent – eliminating potential threats posed by additional fighters who are demobilised; hunger is an enemy that has produced thousands of illegal drug cultivators, but the agreement would help ensure that they have legal, productive employment.

    The negotiations are done, and this historic agreement has been passed by the Colombian legislature. Support for Colombia and the trade agreement is smart foreign policy. Congress has a responsibility to act now, says McCaffery.

    Source: Barry R. McCaffrey, Congress should OK trade deal, Miami Herald, November 25, 2007.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 04 December 2007
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