US House of Democrats put Colombia FTA on hold

by Editor
Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The House by a largely partisan vote of 224 to 195 approved a rule (H Res 1092) stopping the 90-day legislative time clock on the US-Colombia FTA, putting action on hold - perhaps for the rest of the year.

This action continues to disadvantage U.S. exporters, who must continue to pay import duties on U.S. products going into Colombia while Colombia enjoys duty-free access to the US. This FTA would have been a win for the U.S. (more than $1 billion in the last 10 months).

The Administration has been trying for the past 16 months to get a commitment from Congressional leaders to schedule a vote.

Under the agreement, high-quality U.S. beef exports to Colombia would receive immediate duty-free treatment as will cotton, wheat, soybeans, soybean meal; key fruits and vegetables including apples, pears, peaches, and cherries; and many processed food products including frozen French fries and cookies.

Beef and pork will also benefit from improved market access. The United States and Colombia have worked to resolve sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to agricultural trade, including food safety inspection procedures for beef, pork, and poultry. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is recognized as the certifying authority for U.S. meat and poultry plants and provides for the concept of equivalency in meat inspection.