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| 1/28/2011 12:00:00 AM

Drug War Trumps Free Trade in Colombia

With president Obama's State of the Union speech giving notice that free trade with Colombia is not a priority in Washington, Colombia's ability to attract foreign capital now depends on the security provided by US forces and trade incentives linked to the war on drugs.

With the promise of free trade, more than $7 billion in foreign investment poured into Colombia last year, powering the growth of a modern services sector in cities like Medellin, where commuters ride to work on a french designed metro system. But renewal of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), due to expire in a few weeks, is now critical if the Obama administration is to maintain its strategic alliance with the nation that remains the world's largest grower of coca leaves.

ATPDEA is a decade old policy tool that provides Colombia with trade preferences to host US drug war personnel who help contain the FARC, right wing paramilitary units and others seeking to control coca producing land and prices. Thanks to ATPDEA over 90 percent of Colombian exports, including cut flowers, already enter the United States duty free without the need for the free trade agreement that's stalled on Capitol Hill.

Colombian vice president Angelino Garzon will visit Washington on Friday to lobby counterpart Joe Biden and secretary of state Hillary Clinton to renew ATPDEA. Garzon will also listen to NGOs and union officials share their concerns about human rights and labor issues in Colombia.
 
Read more here.

Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.

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