Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Canada's Senate Approves Canada-Colombia FTA: Good for Them, Bad for the US

AFP reports that Canada's Senate approved the Canada-Colombia FTA today, only a few days after the Canadian House of Commons did the same:
A Canada-Colombia free trade pact is expected to be signed into law here next week, after Canada's senate voted in favor of the agreement late Monday, an official told AFP Tuesday.

The trade legislation adopted last week by members of parliament must still be signed by Governor General Michaelle Jean, representative of Queen Elizabeth II, said Monika Bujalska, press secretary to Trade Minister Peter Van Loan.

"This is expected next week," she said.

Canada's senate passed the bill despite some reservations about "the seriousness of human rights violations" in Colombia, which had held up signing the accord for two years.

Both governments must still set a date for the free trade agreement to come into force.

The deal is expected to boost Canadian investment in Colombia's mining and oil sectors, as well as increase agricultural exports, primarily wheat and barley. Canada-Colombia trade topped 1.3 billion dollars in 2008, according to the latest figures.

Colombia's Congress approved the FTA back in August 2009, and President Uribe gave the agreement his final approval shortly thereafter.  The agreement still needs to be ratified by Colombia's constitutional court, which (so I'm told) is expected as early as September 2010.  So despite the fact that the two countries haven't set a date for the agreement to enter into force, it could be as early as July 2010 (as IBD's Monica Showalter noted last week)this Fall.  Meanwhile, the US-Colombia FTA, completed and signed about two years before the Canadian agreement, has absolutely no chance of entering into force this year due to continuing fecklessness by the Obama administration and its Democrat colleagues in Congress.

The Chamber's John Murphy comments today on this development and its implications for US businesses:
Last night, Canada’s Senate gave final approval to the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. For months, the U.S. Chamber and others have warned that the Canada-Colombia FTA will put U.S. workers and farmers at a marked competitive disadvantage in Colombia. Canadian wheat farmers will be able to sell their crop to Colombians at a discount, and Canadian manufacturers will be better able to undercut their U.S. competitors in the Colombian market.

Unfortunately, this scenario is already unfolding. Following implementation of a new trade accord between Colombia and Mercosur, the U.S. share of Colombia’s market for soybean meal, yellow corn, and wheat dropped by 67%, 53%, and 37%, respectively, in 2008-2009.
In other words, a newly-minted Canada-Colombia deal is fantastic news for Canada and Colombia and awful news for US exporters (and consumers).  Grrrreat.

And in case you're wondering, there was nary a mention of any of this today from our wonderful USTR.  (Of course not.)

UPDATE:  My original post was wrong about the earliest that the Canada-Colombia FTA can enter into force.  I've corrected the post above to include mention of Colombia's constituional court and a revised timeline for implementation.

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