August 01,2003

Grassley, Colleagues Urge Consideration of a U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, and severalof his colleagues today urged the United States Trade Representative to consider a U.S.-Colombiafree trade agreement. The text of their bipartisan letter follows.

August 1, 2003

The Honorable Robert B. Zoellick
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20508

Dear Ambassador Zoellick:

We are writing to ask for your serious consideration of initiating negotiations with Colombiaon a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as you consider possible future FTA candidates. While werecognize that your agenda is already extensive, there are compelling reasons to consider a bilateralagreement with Colombia.

Priority should be given to negotiating FTAs with those countries that offer the mostimmediate, durable and wide-ranging economic and trade benefits to the United States and thatsupport our economic and political principles in the world community. Colombia certainly seemsto meet these important criteria. It is the second most populous country in South America and itseconomy is larger than Chile or the combined countries of the proposed U.S.-Central American FreeTrade Agreement.

As the government of Colombia continues to work to bring peace and rule of law to itsterritory, it is important that new economic opportunities are also made available. Strengthening theeconomic ties between the United States and Colombia will bring greater political stability, decreasethe dependence of Colombia on U.S. financial assistance, and provide improved access for U.S.businesses to Colombia.

There is no question that important benefits are already being realized as a result of ourstrong and growing bilateral economic relations, particularly since the renewal and expansion of theAndean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA) last year. ATPA is promoting the stability and prosperityof Colombia and the Andean region as a whole, and is supporting the continuing efforts againstdrugs and terrorism in the area. In fact, in 2002 Colombia was the largest market for U.S. exportsin the region, representing 52 percent of U.S. exports to ATPA countries. Additionally, in the firstquarter of 2003, bilateral trade between the U.S. and Colombia increased by 23 percent.

A bilateral pact with Colombia offers the United States increased opportunities for expandingexports of goods produced by American workers, farmers and businesses and sets a basis for longterm investment in bilateral trade. It offers a very real possibility of setting precedents and buildingcommon and coordinated interests that we can build upon in subsequent negotiations, including theFree Trade Area of the Americas and the Doha Development Agenda of the World TradeOrganization.

Therefore, we appreciate your consideration and look forward to discussing further thepossibility of initiating negotiations with Colombia on a U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.


Charles E. Grassley 

Orrin G. Hatch
Bob Graham 
John Breaux
Trent Lott