The Washington Times - March 30, 2011, 06:23PM

Colombia is set to implement a trade agreement with Canada this summer while a similar pact the South American country signed with the United States more than four years ago languishes in Washington.

Under the agreement with Canada, which is expected to go into effect July 1, Colombia will remove tariffs on 98 percent of Canadian goods. 


Trade barriers will be eliminated immediately for wheat, barley, lentils, peas, beef, paper products and machinery, while other tariffs will disappear over a five-to-10-year period.

President Obama has said he wants to see the U.S.-Colombia agreement implemented, but has yet to submit it to Congress. Some Democrats continue to express concerns over Colombia’s union protections, which they describe as inadequate.

Free-trade advocates have dismissed those concerns, arguing that Colombia’s government has made significant progress in eradicating violence against union members.

Mr. Obama pointedly avoided Colombia during his three-country tour of Latin America last week. Analysts said the move was likely motivated by the fact he had no progress to announce on trade.

The president recently submitted to Congress a U.S. trade agreement with South Korea, which was struck in June 2007 under the Bush Administration. That deal has yet to be ratified as some lawmakers are saying it must be considered along with the stalled free-trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.

The Colombian Constitutional Court paved the way for the Canada deal by signing off on the agreement last week.