By voice vote on Wednesday, the House of Representatives granted a 10-month extension of the Andean Trade Preference Act that promotes imports from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
"The extension will provide a bridge while we work to secure Congressional passage of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement and to implement the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement," says Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer. "I encourage the U.S. Senate to pass this extension before ATPA expires this week and then move forward to pass the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement."
Last fall Congress approved a free trade agreement with Peru, but has yet to act on an agreement President Bush signed in 2006 with Colombia.
"For the past 16 years, Colombia and Peru have had almost duty-free access to the U.S. market," Schafer says. "It is time for Congress to provide U.S. farmers and ranchers with duty-free access to an even larger market by approving our agreement with Colombia."
The Andean Trade Preference Act, enacted in 1991, is set to expire Feb. 29. It must get Senate approval and a presidential signature by then to avoid disruption of trade.