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U.S.-Colombia FTC Concludes First Meeting

The first meeting of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Commission (FTC) took place in Washington on Nov. 19, 2012. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Miriam Sapiro hosted the meeting, and Vice Minister of Trade Gabriel Duque Mildenberg led the Colombian delegation.

The FTC oversees the implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA), which went into force May 15, 2012. According to USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk, the agreement is already accruing benefits to both sides. For example, U.S. exports to Colombia from May to September 2012 reportedly were 20-percent higher than they were in the same period in 2011.

"All indications are that the Agreement is off to a successful start. The hard work of both our teams to prepare for entry into force appears to have paid off, as our respective exporters have begun to take advantage of the new opportunities the Agreement provides," Kirk said. "Our statistics show a significant increase in trade in both directions — a classic win-win. In addition, the FTC meeting provides a public signal of the continuing importance both our governments attach to realizing the full potential of one of our closest trade relationships in the Hemisphere."

The U.S. and Colombian delegations have decided to consider accelerating the agreement's tariff provisions and to set time frames to implement the dispute settlement mechanism and update the rules of origin. Other actions have included monitoring fulfillment of commitments whose deadlines occurred after the TPA entered into force; as well as reviewing the work of the Technical Barriers to Trade, Agriculture, and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures committees.

In addition, there were discussions surrounding the continuing efforts of the two governments vis-à-vis implementation of the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights.

November/December 2012