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Ambassador Sapiro and Colombian Ambassador Villegas review progress in the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement

The United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) entered into force on May 15, 2012. Yesterday, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sapiro and Colombia’s Ambassador to the United States, Luis Carlos Villegas, met in Washington to review progress on implementation of the CTPA, as well as to discuss progress on implementing the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights.

2011 to address concerns regarding labor rights in Colombia, including inadequate efforts to prosecute the perpetrators of violence against union members, and insufficient protection of workers’ rights in labor laws and enforcement. Since then, the Government of Colombia has passed a series of stronger labor laws, hired hundreds of new labor inspectors, police investigators and criminal prosecutors, and started enforcing new laws, including by assessing significant fines for labor violations.  During the meeting, Ambassadors Sapiro and Villegas discussed ways to build on this progress and continue working closely together to implement the Action Plan and address remaining concerns. Areas where we are working with the Santos Administration to address remaining challenges include improving the system for collecting fines for labor violations, regulating all forms of contracting that undermine labor rights, hiring labor inspectors and increasing inspections in the Action Plan priority sectors, taking steps to reduce violence further against labor leaders and activists, and increasing criminal prosecution of those responsible for such violent acts.

Ambassadors Sapiro and Villegas also reaffirmed a common commitment to ensuring that both countries benefit from the opportunities that the CTPA offers, including with respect to industrial and agricultural products.

Colombia and the United States have a strong trade relationship that has only improved since the enactment of the CTPA.  The United States is Colombia’s largest trading partner, while Colombia is the third largest market for U.S. exports in Latin America. In 2013, U.S. exports to Colombia totaled more than $18.6 billion, up from $14.3 billion in 2011, the last full year prior to entry into force of the Agreement.

For more information about the CTPA, please click here