Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer stated, “The signing of the 10-month Andean Trade Preference Extension Act (H.R. 5264) by President George W. Bush is an important interim measure while we work to secure Congressional passage of the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement and to implement the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. Now we need both chambers to move forward with the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement.

“The US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement will replace one-way with two-way free and fair trade by providing US farmers, ranchers and businesses with duty-free access to that market. Opening the Colombian market and increasing our two-way trade will strengthen our economic ties and also promote increased stability that will benefit all the nations of the Western Hemisphere.

“For the past 16 years, the Andean Trade Preference Act provided Colombia and Peru with duty-free access to the US market for nearly all products and generated economic opportunities in those countries. Last fall, Congress took a critical step toward allowing US exports to benefit from two-way trade by approving the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. Now, it is time for Congress to provide US farmers and ranchers with duty-free access to an even larger market by approving our agreement with Colombia. Over 90 percent of US imports from Colombia enter our country duty-free. This agreement will provide US companies and farmers with duty-free access to the Colombian market.”