Colombia's President Santos hails US trade deal vote

A Colombian grower cuts roses at Elite greenhouse in Facatativa Colombia is eyeing expanded markets for its exports such as cut flowers

Related Stories

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has hailed a "historic day" after the US Congress passed a long-delayed free trade agreement with Colombia.

Both houses of Congress voted in quick succession to approve the deal, as well as pacts with Panama and South Korea.

President Barack Obama said the deals were "a major win for American workers and businesses".

But the accords, signed several years ago, were controversial both in the US and in the respective countries.

President Santos said the vote was hugely significant for his country.

"Today is a historic day for relations between Colombia and the United States," he said.

"The free trade agreement ends the uncertainty that has been discouraging long-term investment and it now guarantees to all investors stability in the rules of the game."

But the head of Colombian trade union federation, the CUT, said the economy was not ready to compete.

"Our country isn't developed, it does not have the expertise much less the requirements for trade at this level," Tarsicio Mora told the Associated Press news agency.

Ready to trade

The Colombian deal, highlighting concerns among some Democrats about labour conditions in Colombia, had the least support in Congress of the three accords.

Longshoremen work next to a container ship at Port Everglades Supporters say the deals will boost exports - critics say jobs are at risk

"I find it deeply disturbing that the United States Congress is even considering a free trade agreement with a country that holds the world record for the assassinations of trade unionists," said Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

All three accords were signed during President George W Bush's administration.

But concerns over tariffs, overseas labour practices and the effect of increased competition on US jobs meant the deals languished for several years before being put to a vote.

The deal with South Korea was the biggest US trade pact since it signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) with Mexico and Canada in 1994.

Panama's government said their deal was a key for their economic policies which seek to increase foreign investment.

"We Panamanians have to be ready to take advantage of the benefits of this agreement," President Ricardo Martinelli said in a statement.

The Obama administration says the deals will increase US exports by $13bn (£8bn) a year.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Latin America & Caribbean stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.