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Chamber Hails Proposed Trade Talks with Andean Region

Monday, November 17, 2003 - 7:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Chamber of Commerce welcomed today's announcement by the Bush administration that the United States will initiate negotiations for a free trade agreement with four Andean countries — Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia — calling it a significant step forward for hemispheric free trade and an economic shot in the arm for the U.S. and the Andean region.

"The proposed free trade agreement is an opportunity to leverage the success of our trade ties to the Andean region," said Daniel W. Christman, the Chamber's senior vice president for international affairs. "It will create new markets for U.S. exporters and generate a broader range of business and job opportunities from Lima, Ohio, to Lima, Peru."

Since the Andean Trade Promotion Act was approved in 1991, U.S. trade with the four countries has nearly doubled, reaching $16.8 billion in 2002.

"Most of the region's exports to the U.S. already enter our market duty free," observed Christman. "As a result, a free trade agreement will arguably do more to boost U.S. sales in the region than vice versa, though the agreement will help consolidate sound economic governance, protection for intellectual property, and investment standards in the region.

"The U.S. Chamber is sounding just two notes of caution," continued Christman. "This initiative must not detract from the effort to complete the Free Trade Area of the Americas, which remains our top hemispheric priority. Also, we will press the Andean governments to resolve a number of ongoing investor disputes before the launch of negotiations early next year. Doing so will expedite the talks significantly and build goodwill in the U.S. Congress," he added.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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