From the Revolutionary Independent Workers’ Movement (MOIR)

Senators Jorge Enrique Robledo and Alexánder López, of the Polo Democrático.

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The FTA in 2012: Worse than in 2007

Aurelio Suárez Montoya, Bogotá, April 19, 2011


[Translated by Buddy Bell  a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, a CSN Volunteer Editor.]

Manipulating opinion, an idea has been propagated: that the FTA [U.S. – Colombia Free Trade Agreement] was not approved because of missteps by the U.S. government. After the intense debate between 2004 and 2006, when it was clear that Colombia was the net loser under the agreement, it has been implicated that through saying no to Uncle Sam, Colombia has rebuffed its “ally.”

Since January, in his State of the Union address, Obama said that pushing U.S. exports is part of sound strategy for economic recovery. It is one more thing, in addition to war, bailouts, and state subsidies like Buy American, which is supposed to accelerate a dynamic economy. Echoing this chorus, Santos and Angelino have not been ashamed to push the FTA in Washington; quantifying the losses that could be incurred by U.S. corporations should it fail.

The growing inequality between the two nations was not addressed through the negotiation, nevertheless it has risen to become admittedly one the most notorious iniquities: the numerous agriculture subsidies of the North, the downpour of cheap excess goods into the market, the extension of medicine patents, and the super protection of gringo investments. In 2012 this will be even more serious than in 2007. For example, the volumes of agricultural and livestock charters granted without tariff for 2007 will increase in 2012 thanks to the trend of annual increase in charters granted, but also the new discount in tariff, which was adopted on the actual day of the negotiation, not the day it takes effect. Also, in 2012, the tariff-free limit for imports of rice will not consist of 79,000 metric tons but 90,000. Corn imports, already at 2 million tons will increase by 55,000 tons. Pork meat comes in duty-free in whatever quantity, and if you quantify dairy capital with other kinds, you must include oversupply and whey. Any negative balance carried by big industry is going to put pressure on the government to revalue the peso, something which has already strained flower exports.

The control of drug prices and of social rights remain out of reach as advantages forfeited through the trade deal, like due process rights, free trade zones, the elimination of taxes on repatriated profits, antitrust regulations in mining and petroleum, and much more. Additionally, there will be loopholes negotiated (using international tribunals) in favor of investors— the solution to ramming through controversial proposals.

The FTA in 2012 will be worse than in 2007. The national economy is weaker, and new projects, like the National Action Plan (2011-2015) or that of the corporate-owned universities, facilitate the crude application of the FTA, a creature of Uribe and Santos— the former made the terrible thing and the latter is set to finish it; history will not absolve them.

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