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COLOMBIA MEETS KEY TRADE GOAL

Colombian AmbassadorGabriel Silvaurged President Obama to submit a long-stalled free-trade agreement to Congress after his nation cleared a major hurdle in trade talks with the adoption of key labor rights.

“Every day without a free-trade agreement in place is a day that a U.S. farmer sells his corn or wheat at a higher price than his competitors in the Colombian market,” he said.

“It is a day that a Colombian flower grower sells her roses at a higher price in the U.S. market.”

The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement would remove tariffs on goods from both nations and stimulate more commerce. Currently, 39 percent of Colombian exports go to the United States, while 29 percent of Colombian imports come from America. Corn is the major U.S. export.

U.S. Trade RepresentativeRon Kirkannounced this week that Colombia met American requirements to protect labor rights in a nation long accused of allowing right-wing paramilitary groups to kill union leaders.

Former President George W. Bushsigned the trade pact in 2006, but the Democrat-controlled Congress at the time refused to consider the measure.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.