latin business chronicle

Colombia's Heartfelt FTA Strategy

Sept 30--Colombia hopes to win U.S. hearts in the free trade debate.

With a Colombia-U.S. free trade agreement stalled in both houses of the U.S. Congress over concerns about human rights and judicial reform in the South American country, the Colombian government is taking its case directly to the American public, mounting a large-scale public relations campaign that made a stop earlier this month in downtown Washington.

The exhibit, which consists of 47 giant hearts showcasing various products and cultural contributions from Colombia, is now on display in New York, where Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, in town for the UN General Assembly meeting, paid a visit last week.

The effort, coordinated by Colombian export promotion agency ProExport, is aimed at reaching a broader audience than those typically involved in trade debates. "I think the campaign is not a message to the lobbyists or to the political people but to the general public," said Jaime Echavarria, director of ProExport USA. Echavarria and the Colombian government are hoping the "Discover Colombia Through Its Heart" campaign will help change people's minds about the country. "We are very aware of the fact that the perception of Colombia per se is not the best," he said in an interview with the Advisor.
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