I recently participated in a forum focusing on how the new U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (Agreement), signed into law by President Obama in October, provides opportunities for expanded trade between our two countries. Representatives from more than 100 U.S. and Colombian businesses attended the event in Bogotá organized by the Colombian American Chamber of Commerce.
Colombia is the 3rd largest economy in Central and South America, and one of our most important strategic partners in the region. I am impressed by Colombia’s level of economic liberalization and diversification of exports, and its sustained investment in information technologies. Furthermore, the country has greatly improved its corporate governance standards, and the United States and Colombia have largely complementary economies.
U.S. companies should prepare to take full advantage of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. When implemented, the Agreement will eliminate barriers to billions of dollars of U.S. exports, and increase U.S. market access for goods and Colombia’s $166 billion services market. Nearly 75 percent of duties on industrial and agriculture goods from the United States will be terminated immediately, and almost all other duties phased out during the next 5-10 years.
The Agreement is expected to increase U.S. exports by at least $1 billion annually and U.S. Gross Domestic Product by more than $2.5 billion. Key industry sector opportunities include information technology products, agriculture and construction equipment, infrastructure and machinery, chemicals, remanufactured and medical equipment, electrical power generation and distribution equipment, and aircraft and parts.
The Agreement also advances President Obama’s National Export Initiative which aims to double overall U.S. exports by the end of 2014, creating new opportunities for U.S. businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers.
We want to make sure that we support U.S. companies’ competitive position in Colombia and facilitate two-way trade. Colombia is doing the right things to get their house in order—they have significantly improved their business climate and are aggressively working to make it even better.
With a population of 48 million consumers in an economy with a growing GDP, Colombia is an attractive market for the United States. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected to peg its Colombian 2011 economic growth forecast to close to 5 percent. According to World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Colombia is the region’s leading reformer, ranking 37th among 183 economies—and remains among the world’s 10 most active reformers.
For assistance in doing business in Colombia, U.S. businesses can contact their local U.S. Commercial (CS) Export Assistance Center at www.export.gov, or visit the Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá.