Caterpillar VP for Latin America appears before the US International Trade Commission in Washington, DC and calls for elimination of trade and investment barriers between the two countries

In testimony on Oct. 5 before the United States International Trade Commission in Washington, DC the Caterpillar Inc. vice president with responsibility for Latin America urged congressional passage of the pending US-Colombia Trade Promotion agreement.

“The United States and Colombia are not just economic partners, but allies in the war against terror and narcotics. That’s why it may be the most important bilateral relationship in the hemisphere, and it’s time for our economic relationship to reflect the bond of friendship,” said Tom Gales, Caterpillar vice president for Latin America. “Let’s do away with temporary, unilateral preferences and establish a foundation that is mutually beneficial, reciprocal and permanent. It’s time to eliminate all trade and investment barriers between our two countries.”

During his appearance before the commission, Gales discussed the potential economic benefits for Caterpillar and other US and Colombian businesses and consumers. Together, Colombia and Peru comprise a larger export market for Caterpillar than Brazil, the United Kingdom, Japan or Germany.

Gales cited two examples of Caterpillar’s presence in Colombia. At the Drummond mine in Pribbenow, 21-million tons of coal are mined annually with the help of more than 250 Caterpillar machines, which includes 75 D11 track- type tractors made in East Peoria, Illinois. It is the largest single concentration of D11 tractors at one site in the world. At a mine in Cerrejon, 270 Caterpillar machines help mine 23-million tons of coal a year. Caterpillar off-highway trucks manufactured in Decatur, Illinois, comprise about half of the mine’s equipment.

“The first day the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement goes into effect, Colombia’s $200,000-plus duty on each large off-highway truck made in the United States will be completely eliminated,” commented Gales. “Caterpillar products will be more competitive in Colombia, which in turn will help Colombian customers be more competitive in the world.”

Today, Colombia’s tariffs on automobiles is 35%; for furniture, 20%; and for computers, 10%. Gales testified that by eliminating these duties, the Trade Promotion Agreement will provide the average Colombian consumer with a higher standard of living by offering more product choices at lower prices.

“The agreement will also enhance the rule of law and bolster implementation of internationally recognized worker’s rights,” said Gales. “It will strengthen protection and enforcement of US trademarks, patents and copyrights, creating new opportunities for innovation and creative industries in Colombia.”