Tuesday, October 9, 2007

U.S. Dept of Commerce Travels to Colombia

Parque de los Deseos

Commerce Secretary Gutierrez to Lead 2nd Congressional Delegation to Colombia Monday, October 8, 2007

MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY—U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez today announced he will lead a second congressional delegation to Colombia from Oct. 12-14 as part of the Bush administration’s effort to push for approval of this key bilateral trade agreement. Gutierrez is in Uruguay to discuss trade and economic ties before going to Brazil and then Colombia.

“The US-Colombia FTA is great for American exporters and workers and for Colombian development,” said Gutierrez. "Colombian exporters receive duty-free access to the U.S. market. This trade agreement will give U.S. exporters the same access that Colombians have to our markets.”

“The Uribe administration is moving Colombia in the right direction. Violence is down and prosperity is up,” said Gutierrez. “The free trade agreement (FTA) is the most important step we can take to spur economic growth, reduce poverty, and help to stem violence in Colombia. An FTA will expand our commercial ties, encourage social justice, improve education and healthcare to support democracy and the rule of law.”

Gutierrez will lead his second U.S. congressional delegation to Colombia in a month to show the positive economic and social changes being driven by President Alvaro Uribe, a key U.S. ally. Gutierrez and the delegation will meet with government officials and members of the business community and civil society, including union leaders.

“Colombia’s positive path, since 2000, is directly due to the bipartisan success of Plan Colombia that President Clinton and then Speaker Hastert had the vision to support,” said Gutierrez. “The Colombia FTA is the logical extension of Plan Colombia.”

Through Plan Colombia there has been a steep decline in violence.

By 2006, Medellin’s murder rate was down to 29 per 100,000 persons—lower than many major U.S. cities.

Also, according to the State Department:
Terrorist attacks dropped from 1,645 in 2002 to 646 in 2006.
Homicides dropped 40 percent from 2002 to 2006.
Kidnappings dropped 76 percent from 2002 to 2006.

(full report)

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