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March 2011

March 31, 2011

Colombia-Canada FTA Expected to Enter into Force by July 1

March 13, 2011

Morning Sun (Pittsburgh, KS)

By John Schlageck, Leading Commentator on Agriculture and Rural Kansas

Gains in exports through the Colombian agreement are expected at $815-million…These trade agreements are crucial for the economic well being of this nation’s farmers and ranchers as well as the economic health of their rural communities and the whole of the U.S. economy…It’s time for them to implement free-trade agreements.

March 20, 2011

Miami Herald

By Jose Perez-Jones, Senior Vice President for Seaboard Marine Ltd.

Colombia is the third most populous country in Latin America with 44 million residents. Its annual GDP has grown on average 5 percent per year for the past half decade. A country clearly on the rise, Colombia offers vast opportunities for increased trade that will boost American jobs…Remember that more than 300,000 Colombians live in Florida and as Ambassador Silva told Miami’s leaders, ‘Colombia loves America...trade is more than just business, it’s a real expression of friendship.’ We should not keep our friends waiting any longer. Let’s get [the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement] done!

March 2, 2011

Orlando Sentinel

It's welcome news that the Obama administration is — at last — putting key trade treaties on its to-do list for this year, including one with Colombia, a key trade partner for Florida…With high unemployment, and a weak economic recovery, our state needs a boost from more trade.

March 4, 2011

Miami Herald

If there’s one thing Washington can do to help itself and also give South Florida a big boost — without providing a cent of federal money — it’s to approve the long-stalled Colombia and Panama Free Trade Acts. Trade is the economic lifeblood of this community (the port a prime example) and trade with Colombia means jobs here.

March 14, 2011

Washington Post

Three stalled trade agreements are jeopardizing a vital cog of this country’s economy. The inability of Congress and the Obama administration to compromise on Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Korea and Panama is costing the United States $3-billion in lost agricultural trade.

March 17, 2011

Los Angeles Times

Colombia is the second-largest recipient of U.S. aid in the Americas, after Mexico, and trade between the two countries is more than $25 billion. Now, the United States' failure to approve the agreement is hurting bilateral relations. Congress and the president should move quickly to approve it (along with the proposed free-trade agreement with Panama, which has also been stalled). The time is right.

March 4, 2011
Ambassador Silva Urges Congress to Extend ATPDEA in Remarks During Forum in Florida with Members of U.S. Congress

En Foro de la Florida con congresistas de EEUU, Embajador Silva urge aprobar el Atpdea

4 de marzo de 2011. A continuación, palabras del Embajador de Colombia en Washington, Gabriel Silva Lujan, durante un Foro de Negocios de Florida y Colombia, que cumplió este viernes en Miami.

"Me permito a todos ustedes, amigos de Colombia, usando mis poderes de Embajador, declararlos colombianos honorarios.

Este es un momento crucial, crítico, para Estados Unidos y para Colombia.

A nosotros los colombianos nos conocen porque nos gusta hablar mucho. Voy a ser muy concreto en los puntos que quiero presentar ante ustedes porque son puntos realmente significativos para el futuro de este estado (Florida), de Colombia y de los Estados Unidos.

Esta es mi segunda vez como Embajador ante los Estados Unidos y, en esa época, estábamos en la mitad de la más violenta guerra contra los carteles de la droga. El Atpdea (por sus siglas en inglés) fue una iniciativa que logramos pasar en esa época en el Congreso, que ha ayudado a cambiar y cambió toda la dinámica de este problema.

Esa legislación le permitió a Colombia exportar a la Florida y al resto de Estados Unidos sus productos, de manera abierta, de manera liberal. Esta iniciativa permitió cambiar nuestra economía, de una economía dependiente de las drogas a una economía vibrante, orientada hacia el mercado con crecimientos acelerados.

Y estamos hoy enfrentando -y voy a usar la palabra sin ninguna retórica-, a la tragedia de la expiración de esta legislación. Porque estoy de acuerdo con todos ustedes que el problema hoy es crear puestos de trabajo, pero la mejor forma de crear puestos de trabajo es, primero, defendiendo aquellos que ya existen. Y la expiración de las preferencias comerciales amenaza hoy miles y cientos de miles de empleos.

Para darles una idea, la Asociación de Floristas Americanos, no nosotros, ellos los que están en el terreno, nos están diciendo que hay cerca de 200 mil empleos en riesgo en la cadena de valor de las flores en los Estados Unidos.

Porque hay un amor, una novia, una esposa en todos los rincones de América; porque hay un florista, un vendedor de flores en todas las esquinas; hay floristas en todos los distritos de cada uno de los congresistas de los Estados Unidos. Esos empleos están en riesgo.

Permítanme señalar el impacto para la Florida: más de 1,1 billones en mercancía, amparadas por el Atpdea, entran por la Florida. Esto es el 75 por ciento de todas las mercancías que tienen que ver con este mecanismo. Hay más de 38 mil compañías pequeñas y medianas, de familias, que dependen de este mecanismo.

Por eso, además de unirnos todos aquí para pedir la aprobación del TLC ya, quiero también decirles que sin el Atpdea estamos corriendo el riesgo de perder también el TLC.

Déjenme explicarles por qué. Cuando yo fui Embajador la primera vez, también solicitamos el libre comercio con Estados Unidos, después de México, con Nafta. Recorrí los corredores de la Administración y del Congreso. Eso no fue posible. En esa época, China era el diecisieteavo socio comercial de Colombia. Hoy es el segundo, después de Estados Unidos.

Estamos hablando de puestos de trabajo en Estados Unidos, puestos de trabajo que están siendo destruidos hoy por la demora en la aprobación del TLC y por la expiración de las preferencias comerciales.

Déjenme darles algunos ejemplos:

Hay una compañía en Carolina del Norte, que es quizás una de las pocas compañías de textiles que quedan en los Estados Unidos. Se llama Parkdale Mills, genera 3 mil empleos y su gran mercado es Colombia. Sin las preferencias va a tener que cerrar sus plantas y perder esos empleos.

Otro ejemplo. Los agricultores de Estados Unidos y los productores de alimentos son los principales proveedores de importaciones de alimento a Colombia en el 2008, con 46 por ciento del mercado. Eso fue solo hace dos años y medios. Hoy, es 20 por ciento. ¿Quiénes están cogiendo ese pedazo del mercado que está dejando Estados Unidos? Aquellos países que tuvieron el coraje de seguir adelante con los TLCs que firmaron después de Colombia. Y están ganando.

Estos son ejemplos concretos de la forma en que la expiración de las preferencias y la demora de la aprobación del Tratado de Comercio están destruyendo empleos en América. Objetivos y concretos. Pero también está afectando nuestra amistad.

Somos muy similares en muchas cosas. Nos gusta la libertad, la iniciativa privada, y somos socios estratégicos. Pero esa amistad, esa cercanía, esa fe que nos tenemos está siendo amenazada por algo que los propios colombianos no pueden explicar.  Y por eso es que para nosotros el comercio es más que negocios.

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March 8, 2011
President Santos Asks U.S. Congress to Expedite the Approval of FTA

Facatativá, Cundinamarca, March 8. On Tuesday, President Juan Manuel Santos called on the U.S. Congress to accelerate the approval of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiated between the two countries.

The President said that with the approval of this agreement, the United States would maintain its commitment with such a strategic partner like Colombia. He expressed gratitude for the support of many members of Congress. He stated that it is important that words now turn into concrete actions.

"I call on members of Congress of the United States to maintain their commitment with a strategic partner - as Colombia has been - in the war on drugs and the fight for freedom and democracy.

"I am grateful to all those Senators and Representatives that have expressed their willingness, their good intentions, but we want those words to turn to actions," stressed President Santos.

He underscored that what Colombia is asking for is the ratification of the agreement that was negotiated several years ago.

"We have waited four years for Congress to approve this agreement," said Santos.

During his visit to a flower farm in Facatativá, during the celebration of International Women´s Day, the President stressed that the approval of the agreement would guarantee quality employment for many Colombians. This includes "the employment of those of you in this farm, in this estate, and the employment of thousands of Colombians that depend on their work to feed their families." With the FTA these jobs "are not only maintained but can also be improved."

"That´s the intention of the free trade agreement, because jobs are also being lost in the United States. This trade generates what economists call synergy, one plus one adds up to more than two," added the President.

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March 9, 2011
High-Level Delegation from the Colombian Government Meets in Washington with Members of the U.S. Government

March 9th, 2011. A high level delegation from the government of Colombia, integrated by the Colombian Ambassador to the United States, Gabriel Silva Luján, Chief of Staff to the President, Juan Carlos Pinzón, and the High Level Minister for Public and Private Management and Coordinator of the FTA, Catalina Crane, will meet tomorrow in Washington with several members of the Obama Administration.

The delegation will meet with staff members from the White House and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

The purpose of the meeting will be to listen to ideas from the government of the United States to advance the approval of the extension of the ATPDEA and the free trade agreement with Colombia.

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Delegación del Gobierno de Colombia se reúne en Washington con miembros del Gobierno de EE.UU.

9 de marzo de 2011. Una delegación de Alto Nivel del Gobierno de Colombia, integrada por el Embajador ante el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos, Gabriel Silva Luján; el Secretario General de la Presidencia, Juan Carlos Pinzón, y la Alta Consejera para la Gestión Pública y Privada y Coordinadora del TLC, Catalina Crane, se reunirá mañana en Washington con diferentes miembros del Gobierno del Presidente Obama.

La delegación sostendrá encuentros con miembros de la Casa Blanca y de la Oficina del Representante de Comercio Exterior, Ustr (por sus siglas en inglés).

El Propósito de la visita es escuchar las ideas del Gobierno de los Estados Unidos para avanzar en la aprobación de la extensión del Atpdea y en la Aprobación del Tratado de Libre Comercio con Colombia.

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March 29, 2011
Colombian Roses Flood the U.S. Congress; Embassy, Trade Bureau Make a Special Delivery to Congress, Urge Members to Extend Andean Trade Preferences Immediately

Embassy, Trade Bureau Make a Special Delivery to Congress, Urge Members to Extend Andean Trade Preferences Immediately

Washington, D.C. - The Embassy of Colombia and the Colombian Government Trade Bureau today delivered flowers to all Members of Congress, with a special message urging them to extend the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) immediately. The trade preference program, which expired on February 12, 2011, provides key industries in Colombia with duty-free access to the U.S. market and plays an important role in the country´s economic viability and growth. ATPDEA preferences are also an important tool in the fight against drug trafficking, as they help to develop and strengthen legitimate industries in Colombia and provide employment alternatives to the illicit drug economy.

"The message we are sending today is one intended to hit home for every Member of Congress - the flowers Americans will buy during Easter, Passover and Mother´s Day - will be more expensive this year because ATPDEA preferences expired. The prices are not just higher for U.S. consumers, but also for local florists, grocery stores and street vendors that are in every congressional district, every city and every state across America," said Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. Gabriel Silva.

"This is not the only cost of inaction on ATPDEA legislation. The lapse in preferences is having an extremely negative economic impact in Colombia. Since preferences expired in February, more than 500,000 Colombian jobs are at risk," said Silva. "The Colombian flower industry alone directly employs 200,000 Colombians and helps to support an estimated 220,000 U.S. jobs - from floral wholesalers to air freight workers, truck drivers and flower delivery services."

"ATPDEA preferences are also a fundamental part of our bilateral counter-drug strategy, providing alternative development and legal employment opportunities to hundreds of thousands of Colombians. As the State Department´s recent International Narcotics Control Strategy Report recognizes, this strategy has been a success in making Colombia `a partner in exporting security and stability throughout the Western Hemisphere,´" said Silva. "Not approving the ATPDEA puts these achievements in jeopardy. We urge Congress to extend preferences immediately for as long as possible."

Attached to every flower delivered today was a card that read as follows:

To: Members of Congress

From: Embassy of Colombia

Message: This Easter, Passover and Mother´s Day, the flowers you will send to the ones you love will cost more than in years past. Why? The Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) expired on February 12, 2011 and this is putting at risk hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. and Colombia.

Please extend ATPDEA immediately.

Did You Know...

  • The Colombian flower industry employs more than 200,000 Colombians and helps to indirectly support roughly 220,000 U.S. jobs - from delivery services to your local florists.
  • Colombia is the 2nd largest flower exporter in the world.
  • Nearly 80% of all cut flowers in the U.S. are from Colombia.
  • Colombian flowers imported for Easter and Mother´s Day exceed the number imported for Valentine´s Day.

Asocolflores, the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, provided the flowers for today´s delivery.

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March 30, 2011

Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Silva Celebrate Open Skies Agreement

Washington, D.C. - Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. Gabriel Silva today joined U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to celebrate the United States´ milestone of securing 100 Open Skies Agreements. The agreement reached between Colombia and the United States in November 2010 marked the 100th Open Skies partnership.

During the event, Ambassador Silva highlighted the importance of strengthening commercial ties and the partnership between both nations.

"We are honored to be the United States´ 100th partner through the bilateral Open Skies Agreement. Colombia believes in open skies, in open economies, and in open democracies. This Open Skies Agreement will strengthen commercial ties and will promote friendship and security between us, as will free trade. We hope that the Free Trade Agreement between both nations is approved in the same way," said Silva.

"It is an honor to be here sharing this agreement with you. Colombia is one of the most open and transparent democracies in the hemisphere, and has left behind decades of suffering and violence. We are a new Colombia," he continued.

Secretary Clinton said, "Just consider for a minute what this agreement with one country, Colombia, will mean.  Now, one of Colombia´s biggest exports - fresh-cut flowers - will make it to the flower stands of the United States even faster because shippers will now have more direct access to more American cities.  And on the U.S. side, our computers, sensitive electronics, and spare parts for all types of equipment will make it to Colombia more quickly and efficiently.  And with more direct services between more points, we´ll see more recreational and business travel between our two countries."

In November 2010, Colombia and the United States updated the bilateral Air Transport Agreement signed in 1956. The new text established an Open Skies Agreement between the two countries, strengthening and expanding the already strong bonds in trade and tourism between Colombia and the United States. The agreement will enter into force in January 2013.

Ten years ago, Colombia had only one Open Skies Agreement with Venezuela. Today, Colombia has nine agreements in place with Bolivia, Ecuador, Perú, Costa Rica, Panamá, Paraguay, Qatar, Venezuela and the United States.

International visitors to Colombia have doubled in recent years. While tourism worldwide fell by four percent in 2009, in Colombia, it increased by 10.2 percent. The Government of Colombia aims to increase tourism to five million tourists annually by 2014, and the Open Skies agreement will help to achieve this goal.

Colombia is also one of the fastest growing markets in Latin America, with its exports to the world increasing 21 percent between 2009 and 2010. Colombian exports to the U.S. increased 31 percent during the same period. In 2002, Colombia had two free trade agreements with five countries, and now has 12 agreements with 49 countries. The Colombia-Canada FTA is expected to enter into force in July. Colombia has also signed FTAs with the United States, EFTA countries and the European Union, and is currently negotiating FTAs with South Korea, Panama and Turkey.

To view a video of today´s event, visit http://bcove.me/mvxm053e.

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Secretaria Clinton y Embajador Silva celebran Acuerdo de Cielos Abiertos

Washington, D.C. - El Embajador de Colombia ante el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos, Gabriel Silva Luján; la Secretaría de Estado de E.U., Hillary Clinton, y el Secretario de Transporte, Ray LaHood, celebraron que el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos haya cumplido la meta de llegar a los `100 Acuerdos de Cielos Abiertos´. El acuerdo, negociado entre Colombia y E.U. en noviembre de 2010, es el número 100.

La Secretaria de Estado de E.U., Hillary Clinton, resaltó que con el Acuerdo de Cielos Abiertos, las rosas recién cortadas de Colombia llegarán más rápido a los puestos de flores de los Estados Unidos porque las empresas de carga tendrán  acceso más directo a más ciudades americanas. Así mismo, dijo que los computadores y todo tipo de piezas de repuesto de los equipos de E.U. llegarán a Colombia más rápido y eficazmente. La escucha,  el Embajador de Colombia en Washington, Gabriel Silva Luján.

"Estamos honrados de ser el socio número 100 de los Estados Unidos mediante el Acuerdo de Cielos Abiertos. Colombia ha creído en cielos abiertos, en economías abiertas y en democracias abiertas. Este Acuerdo va a fortalecer los vínculos comerciales, promover la amistad y la seguridad entre nosotros, así como lo hará el libre comercio. Aspiramos a que de la misma manera se apruebe el Tratado de Libre Comercio entre ambos países. Colombia es una de las democracias más abiertas y transparentes del hemisferio, que ha dejado atrás décadas de sufrimiento y violencia. Estamos ante una nueva Colombia", dijo el Embajador de Colombia en Washington, Gabriel Silva Luján.

El Embajador de Colombia ante el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos, Gabriel Silva Luján, saluda al Secretario de Estado adjunto de Estados Unidos para Asuntos Económicos, Energéticos y de Negocios, José Fernández, durante celebración de los Acuerdos de Cielos Abiertos entre EU y 100 países que se cumplió este miércoles 30 de marzo en Washington DC.
Durante la conmemoración de los 100 Acuerdos de Cielos Abiertos, el Embajador Silva resaltó el fortalecimiento de los vínculos comerciales y de amistad entre ambas naciones.

"Estamos honrados de ser el socio número 100 de los Estados Unidos mediante el Acuerdo bilateral de Cielos Abiertos. Colombia ha creído en cielos abiertos, en economías abiertas y en democracias abiertas. Este Acuerdo de Cielos Abiertos va a fortalecer los vínculos comerciales, promover la amistad y la seguridad entre nosotros, así como lo hará el libre comercio. Aspiramos a que de la misma manera se apruebe el Tratado de Libre Comercio entre ambos países", dijo Silva.

"Es un honor estar aquí y compartir este acuerdo con ustedes. Colombia es una de las democracias más abiertas y transparentes del hemisferio, que ha dejado atrás décadas de sufrimiento y violencia. Estamos ante una nueva Colombia", puntualizó.

A su vez, la Secretaria de Estado de E.U., Hillary Clinton,  resaltó que este convenio permitirá que más rosas cortadas de Colombia lleguen más rápido a los puestos de flores de E.U., y que computadores y productos tecnológicos de Estados Unidos lleguen más eficazmente a Colombia.

"Consideremos por un momento lo que este acuerdo significará con un país, Colombia.  Ahora, uno de los mayores productos de exportación de Colombia, las flores recién cortadas, llegará más rápido a los puestos de flores de los Estados Unidos, porque las empresas de carga ahora tendrán acceso más directo y a más ciudades americanas. Por el lado de E. U., nuestros computadores, productos electrónicos y todo tipo de piezas de repuesto de los equipos llegarán a Colombia más rápido y eficazmente. Y con más servicios directos entre más puntos, veremos más viajes de turismo y de negocios entre nuestros dos países", dijo la Secretaria Clinton.

El Acuerdo de transporte aéreo entre Colombia y Estados Unidos se firmó en 1956. En noviembre de 2010 se reunieron las delegaciones de Colombia y Estados Unidos para actualizar el acuerdo, a través del cual se podrán aumentar frecuencias en las rutas ya operadas y nuevas rutas sin limitaciones.

Para ver video del evento, visita la página Web: http://bcove.me/mvxm053e.

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March 30, 2011
Colombia Ready to Implement Free Trade Agreement with Canada by July 1st

Washington, D.C. - The Embassy of Colombia today welcomed news that late last week the Colombian Constitutional Court completed its review of the Colombia-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and affirmed its constitutionality. This ruling marked the last procedural step the nation needed to take to clear the way for implementation of the FTA. The agreement should enter into force by July 1st.

Related Links
ABCs of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Canada
Highlights

The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will now engage in the "exchange of notes," where each government will indicate its readiness to move forward with implementation of the agreement. It is expected that the exchange of notes will take place by late June, paving the way for implementation of the Colombia-Canada FTA in early July. Following this action, the agreement will immediately enter into force.

The Colombia-Canada FTA was signed on November 21, 2008. The governments of Colombia and Canada also signed three parallel agreements on the Environment, Labor and Human Rights. In Canada, the approval process was completed following the Royal Assent obtained on June 29, 2010. In Colombia, the approval process reached its final stage when each of the parallel agreements were approved by Congress and reviewed by the Constitutional Court.

Background on the FTA
When the agreement enters into force on July 1st (expected), it will reduce and remove tariff and non-tariff benefits to trade and investment, which will generate new opportunities and benefits for both Canadian and Colombian businesses. Between 2009 and 2010, without a FTA, exports from Colombia to Canada increased 38 percent. In 2010, bilateral trade accounted for more than $1.3 billion.

With the implementation of the FTA, Colombia will eliminate tariffs on 98 percent of Canadian goods, in some cases immediately and in others over a five- to 10-year period. Canadian products that will enjoy immediate duty-free access to the Colombian market include wheat, barley, lentils, peas, beef, paper products and machinery and equipment. Colombia will also eliminate the use of its price band system on selected products, including wheat, barley and pork.

Colombian manufacturers, exporters and producers will have opportunities to increase their exports to the Canadian market. Colombia´s top imports to Canada include coal, coffee, crude oil and bananas. Other Colombian products with high export potential are cocoa and chocolate goods, oils and derivatives, shrimp and meat. Auto parts and apparel also have the potential to increase through the FTA.

The agreement will provide enhanced market access for Canadian service sectors, including infrastructure, mining, energy and professional services. The FTA commits Canada and Colombia to comprehensive disciplines for the financial services sector, including banking, insurance and securities.

Canada is one of the top 10 sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worldwide. The agreement will guarantee market access for Canadian investors in Colombia, and provide them with greater stability, transparency and protection for their investments. The two-way investment flows between Canada and Colombia will be promoted through reciprocal commitments in sectors such as mining, energy, telecommunications and paper products.

Canada is a country that is recognized for its leadership in protecting human rights and has decided to back the FTA with Colombia. Both countries have committed to ensuring their laws respect the International Labor Organization´s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work through the Labor Cooperation Agreement. Canada is also offering its resources and expertise to help Colombia fully implement this agreement.

Colombia has some of the most diverse biological resources in the world, and Canada is committed to working with Colombia to protect and preserve these resources through the Environment Agreement. Pursuing high levels of environmental protection and effectively enforcing domestic laws and policies in order to increase trade and investment are part of the aims of this agreement. In addition, Colombia and Canada will strengthen cooperation on mutually important hemispheric environmental issues.

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March 15, 2011
March 25, 2011
March 4, 2011