The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the extension of a preferential trade deal that allows the duty-free import of many Colombian products.

"The overwhelming vote in favor of the extension of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) in the House of Representatives shows bipartisan support for this program and Colombia," the country's ambassador to Washington, Gabriel Silva, said in a press release.

The ambassador said he was hopeful about overcoming the "difficulties in the Senate," which will vote next on the trade act.

The mentioned difficulties are caused by Senator Jeff Sessions (R - AL) who has threatened to suspend the vote unless the government solves the problem of a sleeping bag factory from his electoral district that is experiencing serious competition from a sleeping bag company in Bangladesh, a country that also benefits from a trade deal that is part of the vote that includes the ATPDEA.

The ATPDEA was introduced in 1991 to encourage legal trade from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. More than 1,440 Colombian products are reported to benefit from preferential import tariff rates under the deal, with the flower and textiles industries, both big national employers, being major winners.

Thursday, 16 December 2010 06:50

By Adriaan Alsema