- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 3, 2011

SAYING IT WITH FLOWERS

To the Colombian Embassy, a rose by any other name still spells free trade.

The embassy in Washington and the Colombian Government Trade Bureau in Bogota sent roses last week to 433 members of the House of Representatives with a message, urging them to renew a South American trade pact that expired in February. (Two House seats are currently vacant.)

“This Easter, Passover and Mother’s Day, the flowers you will send to the ones you love will cost more than in years past,” the message said.


The embassy said the expiration of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act threatens 200,000 jobs in Colombia, which supplies 80 percent of all cut flowers to the U.S. market. The trade pact also directly or indirectly supports 220,000 American jobs, from delivery drivers to florists.

The expiration of the trade deal will make Colombian flowers more expensive in the United States because import tariffs will be reimposed, the embassy said.

Last week, 10 Republicans and one Democrat raised another reason for renewing the trade deal, which also eliminates tariffs on goods from Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. In a letter to House colleagues, they warned of the risk to U.S. jobs in the apparel industry, which relies on imports of finished goods and exports of raw materials to the Andean region.

“A vote to extend the [trade pact] is a vote to support American textile jobs,” they said.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

• A delegation from South Africa with: Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk; and Jabu Mabuza, chairman, and Thandiwe January-Mclean, chief executive officer, of South African Tourism; and Sthu Zungu, president of South African Tourism-North America. They hold a noon news conference at the National Press Club.

Tuesday

Ignacio Deschamps, chief executive officer of BBVA Bancomer, Mexico’s largest commercial bank. He speaks at George Washington University.

Anvar Bugazov of the Kyrgyz Russian Slavic University, and Zamira Sydykova, former ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the United States. They speak at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

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