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Colombia FTA: What Our Readers Say

LBC readers urge President Obama to move forward on the Colombia FTA.

During his State of the Union speech on January 25, 2011, US President Barack Obama briefly alluded to the Colombia free trade agreement, which was negotiated nearly five years ago and formally signed in November 2006.  "Now, before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers and promote American jobs," Obama said Tuesday. "That’s what we did with Korea, and that’s what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks "  Latin Business Chronicle asked our readers what they thought about the State of the Union speech.  

David Berger, Managing Director,
Latin America and Caribbean, NAI Global

Obama’s stated support of the Free Trade initiatives is a cynical ploy to manipulate politics. The agreements will not be approved during Obama’s presidency. His announcement is a strategy to gain points as a centrist and he will string out the acceptance of FTAs as a bargaining manoeuvre, as long as he can, for other issues he holds dear to his chest. None are President Obama’s priorities and he has a lot on his plate already.

Jerry Haar, Professor of Management & International Business,
College of Business Administration,
Florida International University

The Obama Administration’s trade policy to date consists of all sticks and, no carrots. The South Korean, Colombian, and Panamanian FTAs have languished for no legitimate reason other than to kowtow to organized labor and anti-trade populists. The cost has been lost exports and the jobs related to manufactured exports (ironically, many of these being union jobs). The Administration’s intransigence has also strained our bilateral relations with these three important allies. It will take more than telepromptered rhetoric to turn these three pending FTAs into reality. Hopefully, the Obama Administration will now manifest the wisdom, courage, and action to do so.

Adriana Sarmiento, Manager Director, O.L.C.S.A.L, Colombia
During the State of the Union regarding the trade talks, President Obama also said that he would be visiting Brazil, Chile and El Salvador in the near future. Therefore, we can only but assume that the planned visit to Colombia was cancelled? The question is why?  If USA is pursuing agreements also with Panama, and Panama and Colombia are on the way between Brazil and El Salvador, why not to make the stops?   Why, after Colombia has already been complying with all the commercial conditions required during the Bush Presidency, conditions that were supposedly enough to sign the Bush FTA, since the country that will benefit more at the beginning of the operation of the FTA between Colombia and USA is USA, since USA has been postponing the signing for four years already, why [was] the language of the State of the Union not more assertive than just pursuing?   Maybe, because there is not real interest in signing? Maybe because the next excuse would be that the FTA with Colombia in some absolutely absurd way ends up as "not keeping faith with American workers and promote American jobs", as an excuse to let us know that our economy is not an Asian one, and it is not and have never been of real interest to USA?   It is really difficult to believe at this point the veracity or the real meaning of the words that President Obama used when referring to the FTA with Colombia. We can only wait and see.

Martin Schubert, CEO & Chairman,
European InterAmerican Finance Corp

He needs to move ahead with [the] trade agreement in Colombia if he is to demonstrate seriousness in growing exports. ...He ..did not say he is directing Congress to immediately move to complete negotiations to ratify the agreement, nor did he request approval of fast track.

Juan J Gallardo III, Director, Corporate Solutions,
Latin America & Caribbean, Colliers International

I think we are all missing a great opportunity to create an American Union, to compete with the European Union and Asia.  We should all push to integrate the markets all the way from Canada to Chile

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