B’nai B’rith International sent letters to lawmakers on March 3 urging final approval to the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, more commonly known as the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
This bilateral agreement, signed between the United States and Colombia on Nov. 22, 2006 would eliminate tariffs on goods and services, allowing free and open trade between the two nations. Colombia’s Congress and courts approved the deal, but the U.S. Congress still needs to sign off.
B’nai B’rith also called for an extension of the preferential trade status that Colombia currently enjoys, but which expired last month.
In their letters to Congress, B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin explained that these initiatives would bolster another market for U.S. goods, while at the same time helping to combat poverty in Colombia by providing jobs and other economic opportunities. The economic boost could also play a role in providing stability to Colombian society.
Glick and Mariaschin note: “B’nai B’rith, which boasts an extensive and active membership in Latin America dating back to the early 20th century, views trade with Colombia as vital to building a relationship with an important strategic ally of the United States in a region where anti-American sentiment has increased in recent years. We also feel strongly that these measures, by shoring up Colombia’s market economy and democratic institutions, would further efforts to combat poverty and promote human rights in that country.”
The letter concludes: “We hope that Congress will support the crucial objectives at stake in Colombia by approving this free trade pact. In doing so, it will send a powerful signal to the rest of the hemisphere that democracy and free markets are the keys to prosperity in the region, and that the cynicism and anti-U.S. vitriol offered by South America’s dictatorships are doomed alternatives.”