March 03,2011

Press Contact:

Julia Lawless, Antonia Ferrier, 202.224.4515

Hatch Discusses Bilateral Trade Initiatives with Colombian President Santos

Calls for Prompt Congressional Action on Colombia FTA; ATPA Extension

WASHINGTON – Today, in a one-on-one phone conversation with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, reiterated his strong support for the prompt approval of the pending U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and stressed the need for Congress to extend the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA), which has helped to advance development in Andean nations, including Colombia.  Hatch issued the following statement:

“President Santos and I had a productive conversation today.  We discussed how the trade agreement between our two countries will strengthen both the American and Colombian economies, create much-needed jobs, and shore up a critical regional alliance.

“Regrettably, President Obama has not charted a clear path for congressional consideration of our pending bilateral trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. As a result, U.S. workers and job creators continue to be at risk of losing these important markets to our competitors – hurting prospects for much-need job growth. Linking the extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance to that of the Andean Trade Preference Act has derailed our efforts to continue ATPA, something President Santos said was vitally important to helping Colombia recover from its recent floods.

“Colombia has long been a strategic ally and a strong democratic partner in the hemisphere.  Our trade agreement was signed years ago, and we should not be leaving our friends and allies out in the cold. Swift action by the President on the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement and quick extension of ATPA would be a strong signal that the United States continues to lead in our global economy.”

A longtime advocate of breaking down trade barriers, Senator Hatch has supported initiatives to enhance America’s competitiveness and increase access to new international markets. Trade has played a vital role in strengthening the economy and creating jobs in Senator Hatch’s home state of Utah.  Last year alone, Utah shipped $13.57 billion in merchandise exports to international markets, supporting nearly 93,000 jobs in the state.

This Congress, Senator Hatch has called for concrete action on pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. The Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over international trade policy, will hear testimony from U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and fully examine the Obama Administration’s trade agenda in a hearing next Wednesday, March 9th.