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Colombia to Renegotiate Trade Pact With US: Petro

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro said his government is renegotiating a trade deal with the United States to benefit the South American country’s agriculture sector.

Petro made the announcement at an event with coffee farmers in the southern Huila province.

According to the president, the so-called US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) bars the government from formulating policies that would create jobs in the agriculture sector.

Today we import all the corn. If I wanted to replace that import with corn production, we would have 1,200,000 more jobs. But I can’t do that. You know why I can’t do it? Because the FTA with the United States prohibits this.

President Gustavo Petro

The announced renegotiation comes months after the Petro administration and the government of US President Joe Biden agreed to “revise” the bilateral treaty.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in March that the revision sought to secure that Colombian “farmers, textile producers, and other small- and medium-sized businesses in rural areas can get their products to global markets.”

The revision talks have yet to result in significant announcements.

Effectively negotiating a new trade deal may prove extremely difficult, former Trade Minister Jose Manuel Restrepo told newspaper El Espectador.

Restrepo stressed that the congresses in both Washington and Bogota would have to ratify new bilateral trade pacts.

International trade has not been a priority in Washington and Petro lacks unconditional congressional support in Bogota, according to the former minister.

Petro apparently is willing to give this a try because of the effects of the FTA on Colombia’s countryside, where millions of people rely on agriculture jobs, and the environment.

“Colombia no longer wants to be an oil, coal and cocaine producing country,” said the president. “If wealth comes from labor, this means it’s not in extraction, but in production.”

Those 50 years we have lived where the country forgot coffee and forgot cassava and forgot corn. Today we import almost all of our corn from the United States and Canada.

President Gustavo Petro

Source : colombiareports