U.S., Peru sign free trade deal

Dec. 8, 2005 at 12:07 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Peru and the United States signed a free-trade deal that Washington hopes Colombia and Ecuador will join soon.

The agreement is part of a White House effort to forge a trans-Andean trade pact that resembles the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

"An agreement with Peru is a key building block in our strategy to advance free trade within our hemisphere," Rob Portman, the U.S. trade representative, said in a statement. "We hope to later bring in the other Andean countries including Colombia and Ecuador."

If approved by Congress, the arrangement is expected to have only a minor impact on the U.S. economy. Exports by U.S. firms to all the Andean nations totaled $8.3 billion in 2004, about 1 percent of overall shipments of U.S. goods abroad.

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