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June 2011

June 6, 2011

Minneapolis Star Tribune

By Greg Page, Chairman and CEO, Cargill

Growing up in the late 1960s and 1970s in North Dakota, I came to appreciate the need for markets far away from my hometown in order for the local farmers to make a go of it -- whether those markets were in Bismarck or Bogota. The simple fact is that our local farm economies wouldn't survive without access to other markets. Unfortunately, free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia have been sitting idle as politicians sort out the political calculus and possible impact of these three agreements on 2012 reelection chances. In my mind, elections should be the product of decisionmaking, not its purpose -- especially when the future of local farmers and the nation's economy are at stake. As the United States and global economies struggle to recover from the 2008 financial collapse, and as too many people across the globe remain jobless and hungry, it is irresponsible to accept the status quo on trade. Now is the time for the U.S. Congress to ratify its free trade agreement with South Korea -- as well as those with Panama and Colombia -- to stimulate economic growth, jobs and global food security.

June 2, 2011

U.S. State Department

June 6, 2011

Washington Post

All three potential partners, especially South Korea and Colombia, are
regional allies that both deserve and need the diplomatic backing that
free trade with the United States would symbolize. Second, the
agreements are likely to prove a net plus for the U.S. economy when jobs
are in short supply. And, third, if the United States fails to forge
closer trade ties with these countries, competitors in Europe, Asia and
the Americas will gladly take up the slack.

June 3, 2011
June 8, 2011

Miami Herald

Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after meeting with Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, offered her counterpart reassurances that the free trade pact would win approval. “I am absolutely sure we’re going to get it passed,” she declared. We wish we could share her optimism. Absent a breakthrough in this impasse, the legislation could remain in limbo forever. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the business community must help put a stop t this nonsense by telling their Republican allies to clear the way for passage. Republicans say they favor free trade. It’s time to prove it.

June 8, 2011

Latin Business Chronicle

By Camilo Reyes Rodriguez, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce of Colombia

Colombia, convinced of the importance of the hemispheric integration and the drive that the free trade can offer to its economy, has negotiated free trade agreements with many of the countries of the hemisphere.  Currently, Colombia is close to the ratification of its trade agreement with the United States, which already is an important trading partner.  The agreement will ensure permanent preferential access to the world´s largest market and help attract new foreign direct investment.

June 10, 2011
June 14, 2011

Reuters

Colombia on Monday took another step toward U.S. approval of a long-delayed free trade agreement with the completion of several labor and judicial reforms aimed at reducing opposition to the pact. "We are pleased that Colombia is meeting its commitments," Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement announcing Colombia had met milestones slated to be done by June 15 under a plan the two negotiated to address long-standing concerns about workers' rights and anti-union violence in the Andean nation. "We are eager to see Congress move the Colombia trade agreement forward as soon as possible along with the Korea and Panama agreements and a renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance. It's time to seize the market-opening, job-supporting opportunities of the pending trade agreements for American businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers," Kirk said. Earlier, Colombian's ambassador to the United States said he was optimistic the Congress would approve the trade agreement by the end of summer.

June 13, 2011

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Florida's economy badly needs the trade deals. With a key economic engine, real estate, still in neutral, foreign trade could boost commerce and services at a time when Florida's unemployment remains at double-digit levels. And not just for the moment. South Florida stands at a geographically advantageous spot. Once titan-sized cargo ships start crossing the widened Panama Canal, the state could reap a huge share of the freight business. Gov. Rick Scott has wisely backed dollars for port improvements in Miami, and Port Everglades is working on widening a turning notch that would accommodate larger ships. So the necessary infrastructure should be there. But why wait? Why not start boosting business already? A trade pact with Colombia originally negotiated in 2006 could generate more business now. The pact has been held up in part because of concerns about violence toward and repression against trade unions in the South American country. The Obama administration, however, has worked with the Colombian government to address those issues. A second concern, that the pact would cause loss of jobs in the United States, is nonsense. No one with any knowledge of the trade pact believes that.

June 14, 2011

Florida Times-Union

These treaties would put American workers on a more level "playing field" on international markets, helping grow U.S. employment - something that is badly needed with more than 9 percent of the workforce unemployed.

June 13, 2011
Government of Colombia Welcomes USTR Announcement, Looks to Consideration of FTA in Coming Weeks 

Washington, DC – The Colombian government today welcomed news from U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk that the U.S. government has recognized Colombia’s successful completion of steps outlined in the Action Plan Related to Labor Rights.

“The announcement made today by USTR is a critical moment in the more than four-year journey from when the agreement was signed to when it will be approved – an action we hope will take place in the coming weeks,” said Colombian Ambassador to the United States Gabriel Silva. “We view today’s announcement as an important signal from the Obama Administration that will help pave the way for approval of the FTA. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and Congress to ensure that the benefits of the FTA to U.S. and Colombian exporters and workers can be realized in the near term.”

According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, the agreement is expected to increase U.S. GDP by nearly $2.5 billion and increase U.S. exports to Colombia by $1.1 billion.

“Every day without the FTA in place is a day that a U.S. farmer sells his corn or wheat at a higher price than his competitors in the Colombian market. It is a day that a Colombian flower grower sells her roses at a higher price in the U.S. market, not only because the FTA is not in place, but also because Andean trade preferences which expired on February 12, have not been renewed,” said Silva. “To seize the moment, the market opportunities and the economic gains that will flow from this FTA and the extension of preferences, it is important that action be taken as soon as possible on both fronts.”

In addition to calling for approval of the FTA and an extension of trade preferences, Ambassador Silva stated the importance of today’s announcement with respect to the advancement of labor rights in Colombia.

“The completion of the steps included in the Action Plan is not only relevant to the future of the FTA, but most importantly to the future of Colombia. When President Santos came into office last August, he vowed to take bold, progressive actions and set policies aimed at protecting and promoting labor rights. He has remained committed to that goal since day one, and the achievement of steps included in the Action Plan are reflective of the objectives and priorities of his administration.”

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June 15, 2011

The Hill

On Monday, the U.S. Trade Representative announced that Colombia had met another set of milestones outlined under the labor action plan the country agreed to with the administration, essentially clearing the way for the deal to head to Capitol Hill. That labor action plan was designed to improve the country's labor rights record before its trade deal with America was approved.

June 13, 2011

USTR

Today, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced that
Colombia has met the milestones slated for completion by June 15, 2011,
under the agreed Action Plan Related to Labor Rights. The Action Plan
was announced by President Obama and President Santos on April 7, 2011.
The Obama Administration negotiated the Action Plan to address concerns
related to the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement. Under the Action Plan, the
Colombian Government committed to take a series of measures, within
defined time frames, to improve the protection of internationally
recognized labor rights, the prevention of violence against labor
leaders, and the prosecution of the perpetrators of such violence. The
Obama Administration has made clear that Colombia must successfully meet
the key milestones in the Action Plan for the trade agreement to
advance to the next stage.

June 13, 2011

CSIS

Colombia has turned the page after decades of conflict and uncertainty, and emerges as a country with enormous political, social, and economic potential in the region.  President Juan Manuel Santos, elected just a year ago, has chosen an ambitious post-conflict strategy that addresses the past with an unprecedented and historic law of Victims and Land Restitution and the present with a democratic consolidation policy.  The background of this conversation is a country with healthier economic growth  but also challenges of poverty and inequality.  Investment could increase substantially if the U.S. - Colombian free trade agreement is approved. Moreover, Colombia is now the third largest exporter of oil to the United States in the region with  significant  exploration  potential.  Investment and development will help Colombia create employment and build a promising future for coming generations.

June 15, 2011

Reuters

White House and congressional negotiators appear "within striking distance" of a deal on a retraining program that has held up votes on trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, the Chamber of Commerce said on Wednesday. Tom Donohue, president of the business group, said it was ready to spend generously on lobbying and advertising to win approval of the three long-delayed agreements.

June 17, 2011

Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and Canada Begins on August 15th
Washington, D.C. – The Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and Canada will enter into force on August 15, 2011. The FTA will reduce and remove tariff and non-tariff benefits to trade and investment, which will generate new opportunities and benefits for both Canadian and Colombian businesses.

The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade engaged in the “exchange of notes,” where each government indicated its readiness to move forward with implementation of the agreement. The exchange of notes took place this week, paving the way for implementation of the Colombia-Canada FTA on August 15.

The Colombia-Canada FTA was signed on November 21, 2008. The governments of Colombia and Canada also signed three parallel agreements on the Environment, Labor and Human Rights. In Canada, the approval process was completed following the Royal Assent obtained on June 29, 2010. In Colombia, the approval process reached its final stage when each of the parallel agreements were approved by Congress and reviewed by the Constitutional Court.

Background on the FTA
Between 2009 and 2010, without a FTA, exports from Colombia to Canada increased 38 percent. In 2010, bilateral trade accounted for more than $1.3 billion.

With the implementation of the FTA, Colombia will eliminate tariffs on 98 percent of Canadian goods, in some cases immediately and in others over a five- to 10-year period. Canadian products that will enjoy immediate duty-free access to the Colombian market include wheat, barley, lentils, peas, beef, paper products and machinery and equipment. Colombia will also eliminate the use of its price band system on selected products, including wheat, barley and pork.

Colombian manufacturers, exporters and producers will have opportunities to increase their exports to the Canadian market. Colombia’s top imports to Canada include coal, coffee, crude oil and bananas. Other Colombian products with high export potential are cocoa and chocolate goods, oils and derivatives, shrimp and meat. Auto parts and apparel also have the potential to increase through the FTA.

The agreement will provide enhanced market access for Canadian service sectors, including infrastructure, mining, energy and professional services. The FTA commits Canada and Colombia to comprehensive disciplines for the financial services sector, including banking, insurance and securities.

Canada is one of the top 10 sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worldwide. The agreement will guarantee market access for Canadian investors in Colombia, and provide them with greater stability, transparency and protection for their investments. The two-way investment flows between Canada and Colombia will be promoted through reciprocal commitments in sectors such as mining, energy, telecommunications and paper products.

Canada is a country that is recognized for its leadership in protecting human rights and has decided to back the FTA with Colombia. Both countries have committed to ensuring their laws respect the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work through the Labor Cooperation Agreement. Canada is also offering its resources and expertise to help Colombia fully implement this agreement.

Colombia has some of the most diverse biological resources in the world, and Canada is committed to working with Colombia to protect and preserve these resources through the Environment Agreement. Pursuing high levels of environmental protection and effectively enforcing domestic laws and policies in order to increase trade and investment are part of the aims of this agreement. In addition, Colombia and Canada will strengthen cooperation on mutually important hemispheric environmental issues.
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June 20, 2011

The Miami Herald

The Obama administration hopes to send all three pending free trade agreements — Colombia, Panama, and Korea — to Congress before the August recess. Initially, the plan had been to try for Congressional approval of the Korea trade pact first because it would have the greatest economic impact and then submit the Panama and Colombia accords later. But Kevin Sullivan, the state department’s point man on economic policy in the Western Hemisphere, said in a recent interview that the plan is now to send all three agreements to Congress separately but over the next few months. Technical discussions on the trade pacts are now going on at the Congressional staff level.

June 20, 2011

Lincoln Journal Star

By Keith Olsen, President, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation

Nebraska stands to gain about $20 million from free ag trade with Colombia. The number would be higher but for the fact that while the U.S. has delayed making an agreement, Colombia has been signing trade deals with our competitors, other South American countries, who are likely to hold on to their share of the Colombian market. Colombia also is negotiating with Canada and the European Union; deals with them could shut the United States out of any share of the Colombian market. With the agreement, Nebraska wheat producers are expected to ship about $3.5 million of their product to Colombia each year, and our corn exports are projected to increase more than $7.5 million.

June 18, 2011

The Hill

Silva, a former Colombian defense minster, told reporters that Congress approving the trade deals with his country and others would boost the United States’ struggling job market. “I think Capitol Hill is hearing from many, many partners that delaying all the [trade agreements] is not good, particularly when it comes to U.S. jobs,” Silva said. “This is not theoretical. This is real.” Silva said it is vital that the Obama administration and Capitol Hill move on the trade deals this year. On Thursday, Colombia announced that its trade deal with Canada would go into force on August 15. That could cause U.S. businesses to lose more market share as their products will still be slapped with higher tariffs than their competitors unless the trade deal is approved. “The U.S. could be left out of the market. Competitors are very aggressive,” Silva said.

June 19, 2011

The Cap Times

Mark Palmquist, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Ag Business

Just a few years ago the U.S. provided Colombia with 96 percent of its agricultural imports; today that market share has fallen to 32 percent as this important trading partner increasingly turned to Canada and the European Union for grains and related products. Within a few weeks, we could find ourselves at greater risk of lost opportunity as we wait for Congress to act.

June 18, 2011

The Christian Science Monitor

“We believe and trust that President Obama and his team will have a US-Colombia FTA approved before the summer recess,” Silva told a group of journalists in Washington Friday. “But after not seeing any action for so long, we have moved forward on trade elsewhere. It doesn’t mean we are going to depart from our trade alliance and friendship with the US,” he added, “but we are moving ahead [with others] very strongly.” As Silva’s comments suggest, the four years of congressional inaction on the FTA have prompted a variety of strategies for prodding US lawmakers toward a vote. Aside from the “we’re-turning-elsewhere-for-trade” argument, the Colombians have offered statistics demonstrating that, indeed, the US share of Colombia’s imports is falling in the absence of a trade pact.

June 17, 2011

Nebraska Ag Connection

Nebraska Farm Bureau told President Obama in a letter Thursday that America's three pending Free Trade Agreements are no longer only about expanding export opportunities -- they are about preserving existing foreign markets that the U.S. is losing day by day while farmers and other exporters wait for Obama to act. Writing on behalf of the Farm Bureau board, NEFB President Keith Olsen urged the president to send the trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to Congress for approval without further delay. "Our market share in Colombia has plummeted from 46 percent to 24 percent in the past several years.

June 18, 2011

Sauk Valley Telegraph

By Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL)

In Colombia, our corn and soybean products face a system of variable levies that result in tariffs as high as the World Trade Organization ceiling of 194 percent for corn, 150 percent for soybean products, and 108 percent for pork. The Colombia FTA would immediately eliminate tariffs on those products, vastly expanding our farmers’ market access and a real ability to compete for market share. That FTA would transform our trade relationship with Colombia to a two-way street and strengthen our relationship with that critical regional ally.

June 17, 2011

Southwest Farm Press

By Beth A. Park, USA Rice Federation

As the focus in Washington shifts to trade, the U.S. rice industry is eager to move forward and maximize the benefits of the U.S.-Colombia FTA.  This agreement, in particular, is the most favorable for U.S. rice of all the pending FTAs.  The United States concluded the trade agreement with Colombia in June 2007, establishing an initial 79,000 metric ton (milled basis) tariff-rate quota (TRQ) for all types and forms of U.S. rice.  The duty on imported rice is 80 percent now, but within the TRQ, it will be zero.  The amount of the TRQ will increase over time and will end 19 years after the FTA goes into effect.  At that time, all U.S. rice imports into Colombia will be duty-free. The agreement with Colombia offers tremendous short- and long-term economic benefits to U.S. rice producers, millers and exporters.  The greatest achievement of this agreement is the requirement that the rights to import U.S. rice duty free into Colombia under the TRQ be auctioned off and that this revenue (minus administrative expenses), or “quota rents,” be split evenly between U.S. and Colombian industries.

June 20, 2011

The Bismarck Tribune

North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven gave the national Republican weekly radio address Saturday. He ended it by saying: "Thank you, and God bless."… Hoeven addressed what is on just about everyone's minds - the economy and America's fiscal challenges. He did it by highlighting international trade, which he claimed can create jobs and reduce the deficit.

June 20, 2011

The Huffington Post

By Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Council of the Americas

The administration's announcement June 13 that Colombia has met the commitments necessary to enact the trade agreement signed in 2006 could potentially pave the way for much-needed job creation here in the United States.

June 20, 2011

The Huffington Post

By Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association

What's the ads don't mention is that the Colombian union leaders visiting Washington this week are in more danger here than in their home country. In fact, according to statistics cited by the Heritage Foundation, the murder rate in Washington is 33.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to the 5.3 for Colombian unionists. The AFL-CIO is also using old data, going back over 25 years of drug war violence, to exaggerate the situation in Colombia, which has seen marked improvement in recent years. According to research conducted by the Cato Institute, assassination of union leaders in Colombia peaked in 2001, and has dropped 77 percent since then, far outpacing the decline in the overall murder rate.

June 20, 2011

Missoulian

By Mark Palmquist, Executive Vice President and CEO, Ag Business, CHS Inc.

While the U.S. economy has struggled, one sector has remained robust and continues to offer long-term promise - agriculture… But on July 1 that promise, including employment opportunity, could be handed to competing nations if the U.S. fails to act on long-delayed Free Trade Agreements with key trading partners.

June 20, 2011

The Wall Street Journal

Democrats and Republicans have "substantially" narrowed differences over restoring benefits for trade-related job losses, as both sides work toward beginning informal debate on free-trade agreements, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Monday. Mr. Kirk said in an interview that the administration would still prefer to complete talks on the job retraining program before preliminary work begins on trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

June 22, 2011

Farm Future

Talks continue to reach a White House-GOP deal on free trade agreements as a critical July 1 date nears. That's when U.S. competitors Canada and the European Union implement their own trade deals with some of the same trading partners. Less than two weeks before Canada implements a trade agreement with Colombia and the EU with Korea there is still no breakthrough on a key issue blocking movement on deals between the U.S. and the same countries as well as the agreement with Panama.

June 22, 2011

The Times-Tribune

A delay in approval of three free-trade agreements could stall job creation at a time of high unemployment, an official of a business trade group asserts. "One out of five jobs in our economy is fielded with people dealing with ex¬¬ports," Lawrence Meyer, a representative of the Business Roundtable, said Tuesday …

June 17, 2011

Colombia Caucus

"The recent news that Colombia is moving forward to further open their investment market to China is yet another sign that the United States must immediately take the necessary steps to pass the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Colombia’s GDP of over $430 billion makes Colombia the 5th largest Latin American economy and the 3rd largest U.S. export market in Latin America, behind only Mexico and Brazil.  China’s investment in Latin America doubled from 2008 to 2009 alone, and Colombia’s investment agreement with China will further accelerate this growth.  While China is now the largest trading partner of Brazil and Chile, the United States continues to be Colombia’s largest trading partner, with China second.  However, U.S. exporters’ share of Colombian imports fell 17 percent between 2001 and 2009, while Chinese exporters’ share nearly tripled.  Overall Colombia-China trade increased nineteen-fold since 2000."

June 22, 2010

Wall Street Journal

Colombia's foreign debt on Wednesday was given investment-grade status by Fitch Ratings, the last of the three major ratings agencies to do so after Moody's and Standard & Poor's gave their stamps of approval earlier this year. In announcing the upgrade, Fitch noted Colombia's "prudent economic policies, demonstrated resilience to external and domestic shocks" and a reform program ushered in by President Juan Manuel Santos that it said bolsters the credibility and predictability of Colombia's public finances and its economic growth outlook. The upgrade should allow Colombia's government greater access to cheaper capital and will lead to more foreign investment, which is already on the rise due to the country's booming oil sector. The upgrade by Fitch was largely expected by the market following the earlier upgrades by the other two agencies. Colombia's peso, which ended trading in Bogota prior to Fitch's announcement, closed at COP1,780.50 for $1, unchanged from a day earlier. Fitch raised both of Colombia's issuer default ratings one notch.

June 23, 2011

Washington Times

Starting on June 30 and running for two weeks (with a break around July 4), this free program highlights Colombia’s rich heritage, its geographic variety (the Andes mountains, Amazon rainforest, and Caribbean and Pacific coasts are all here), and its impressive bio-diversity (with the most bird species in the world). A delegation of 120 Colombian artists and performers will be on hand to present dance, music, food, storytelling, craft-making and agricultural practices from regions as varied as the Andean Savannah, the coffee triangle, and the cities of Cali, Bogota, and Medellin. 

June 23, 2011

Washington Times

By Ed Fulner, President, The Heritage Foundation

“From Argentina and Canada come agricultural products that enter Colombia with duties lower than those placed on U.S. products, duties that would end with the passage of the FTA,” notes Latin America expert Ray Walser. The U.S. is estimated to have lost some $1 billion in agricultural sales, and all because the U.S.-Colombia FTA remains unpassed.

June 23, 2011

Washington Times

This year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival runs from June 30 to July 4 and July 7 to 11… The three programs featured this year are: Colombia, Rhythm and Blues, and the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. On my recent trip to Colombia, I visited with people who will be attending the festival to share how the country’s environment and culture are intertwined. From artisans to architects to actors—they taught me more about Colombia in a short period of time than I would have discovered on my own.

June 23, 2011

Colombia Reports

Colombian culture, as it intertwines with the country's natural bio-diversity, will be on display on the National Mall in Washington D.C. for the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The "Colombia: The Nature of Culture" exhibition at this year's Folklife Festival will celebrate the bio-cultural diversity of Colombia and will explain how the variety of cultures in the country are connected to their natural environments.

June 22, 2011

Latin Business Chronicle

By John Murphy, Vice President of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Far from being persecuted, Colombia’s labor unions have grown significantly in recent years. The number of Colombian workers affiliated with labor unions rose from 850,000 in 2002 to1,500,000 in 2009 — an increase of more than 75 percent.

June 22, 2011

CNN Money

By Scott Davis, CEO, UPS

While lawmakers and the Obama administration wrangle over side deals to the trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, U.S. businesses – and the economy – suffer.

June 20, 2011

Smithsonian

This summer, visitors to the 45th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival will have the opportunity to take a journey through Colombia, from its mountains and valleys, to its lowlands stretching towards the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and into the broad eastern plains and the Amazonian rainforest. “Colombia: The Nature of Culture” will highlight the country’s diverse cultural and natural heritage and feature 100 participants from six of the country’s primary ecosystems.

June 23, 2011
June 24, 2011

Dow Jones

The Colombian economy expanded at a higher-than-expected 5.1% in the first three months of the year versus the same quarter in 2010, led by increased activity in the booming mining and oil sectors, the government's statistics agency DANE reported Thursday. The country's first quarter gross domestic product growth was higher than the median estimate of 4.7% produced by a Dow Jones Newswires survey of six economists. The faster economic growth in the first quarter hasn't spawned major pressures on inflation, which remains anchored right in the middle of the central bank's 2% to 4% target. 

June 23, 2011

Apparel News

The Colombia free-trade agreement would be a boon for apparel importers as well as exporters. Over 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia would become duty-free immediately, with remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years. Colombia has the third-largest economy in Central and South America, and the free-trade agreement should increase U.S. exports by $1.1 billion.

June 24, 2011

Ohio Farm Bureau

Pending free trade agreements (FTA) between the United States and Korea, Panama and Colombia would amount to more than $2.5 billion in additional exports, economic development and jobs.

June 20, 2011

Semana

Decree – Labor mediation by the Associated Work Cooperatives will end. 300,000 jobs will be legalized. The decree, which establishes norms for the operation of Associated Work Cooperatives (Cooperativas de Trabajo Asociado, CTA), is now a reality. Although Colombia acted as a result of demands made by the United States to approve the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) – which sounds unpleasant – the fact that this is very good news for the working class must not be overlooked. 

June 24, 2011

Washington Post

Simon Hosie, one of Colombia’s hottest young architects, scales partway up the 46-foot bamboo-and-steel tower he is erecting smack in the center of the Mall. From that perch, he contemplates which elements of his creation will blow Washington’s mind the most… “In this moment,” Hosie declares, “this is not Washington. This is Colombia!”

June 26, 2011

North Jersey

The theme is "Colombia: The Nature of Culture," showing how a people's culture is inextricably linked to the environment. The indigenous people of the Andes Mountains region will have to adapt to completely different conditions, andwill have different natural resources than, say, those who live in Colombia's savannah. In a country so geographically diverse, Colombia has developed some of the world's most distinctive cultures and traditions. The festival will highlight six regions of the country, showing how the people adapt their lives to live in harmony with their environment.

June 27, 2011

Washington Post

Preparations are under way for the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall. This year’s festival begins Thursday. It will focus on the nation of Colombia, the Peace Corps and rhythm and blues music… The Colombia section will explore the South American nation’s biological and cultural diversity.

June 27, 2011

Charleston Gazette

Bringing his U.S. Senate committee to Charleston on Monday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller said he hopes small businesses and manufacturers, especially in West Virginia, continue working to market more of their products to foreign countries. “If we export our goods to more countries and find more customers abroad," Rockefeller said on Monday, "our companies will grow and more workers will be hired."

June 28, 2011

Washington Post

The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee said Tuesday that the panel will move forward on three key trade deals that have been held up for weeks over an impasse between the White House and congressional Republicans, with final votes likely to come before Congress leaves for its August recess.

June 28, 2011

Wall Street Journal

Congressional negotiators broke a weeks-long stalemate on trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, likely clearing the way for summer votes on the long-stalled deals, say people familiar with the situation. Under a Senate plan, a renewal of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which aids workers displaced by trade, will be included in the Korea legislation.

June 28, 2011

Embassy of Colombia Statement on Announcement of Senate Finance Committee Mock Mark-up

Washington, DC – In response to an announcement made this afternoon that the Senate Finance Committee will hold a mock mark-up of the U.S.-Colombia FTA on Thursday, Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. Gabriel Silva released the following statement:

"We welcome today’s announcement, as it marks the beginning of the formal Congressional review process toward approval of the FTA.

"As the agreement was signed more than four years ago, we are pleased to see the pathway toward approval in sight.

"We look forward to working with Congress to secure approval of the FTA and a retroactive extension of Andean trade preferences in the coming weeks."

June 30, 2011

Washington Post

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is opening on the National Mall, where visitors can learn about Colombia, the Peace Corps and the history of rhythm and blues music. The free festival opens Thursday and will run through July 4, then again July 6 through July 11. Each day includes performances and demonstrations on the mall, as well as evening events.

June 30, 2011

Omaha World-Herald

Trade has not only provided Grand Island economic stability during the national economic downturn, but will also play an important role in creating new jobs throughout Nebraska's 3rd Congressional District, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official said.

June 29, 2011

The Hill

President Obama pushed Congress Wednesday to pass several pending trade agreements by saying they would boost the resurgent U.S. auto industry…During a news conference Wednesday, Obama said the deals would improve sales of American autos abroad at a time when the Detroit-based companies have started to turn around their operations.

June 28, 2011

Reuters

The Obama administration said on Tuesday that it expected lawmakers to agree to a compromise package of measures to approve long delayed trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

June 28, 2011

Associated Press

The Obama administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have broken a stalemate that could clear the way for Congress to vote on three key free trade agreements, according to congressional officials and business representatives briefed on the plan.

June 29, 2011

Washington Examiner

It has become a summer tradition in D.C. This year the Smithsonian is bringing the country of Colombia to the District of Columbia for this year's 10-day Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year's event will be a fitting marriage of cultures with a large selection of Colombian artists, workers, farmers, musicians and cooks, all there to envelop the nation's capital in everything from empanadas to Amazonian jewelry, with a little Joropo dancing thrown in.

June 28, 2011

Washington Diplomat

[Jorge Iván] Valencia is so passionate about quality coffee that he was one of 100 lucky Colombians chosen to represent this South American country at the Smithsonian's 2011 Folklife Festival, which runs for 10 days on June 30 to July 4 and July 7 to 11… Now in its 45th year, the festival — free to the public — is expected to attract 1.2 million visitors. In addition to Colombia, the 2011 festival will highlight the work of the Peace Corps on its 50th anniversary, as well as America's long musical tradition of rhythm andblues.