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U.S.-Colombia trade pact effective May 15

April 16, 2012 at 11:29 AM

WASHINGTON, April 16 (UPI) -- A United States-Colombia free-trade agreement will take effect May 15, U.S. President Barack Obama said.

The president made the announcement during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.

The two countries completed reviews of each other's laws and regulations concerning implementation of the agreement, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Sunday.

"This agreement will provide American businesses, farmers and ranchers with significantly improved access to the third largest economy in South America," Kirk said.

When the agreement takes effect, tariffs will be lowered on vehicles, consumer goods, agricultural commodities, machinery, and other U.S. exports, "which will make our goods more competitive in the Colombian market," Kirk said. "That means support for well-paying jobs at home."

On May 15, more than 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia will become duty-free, the U.S. trade office said. Also becoming duty-free will be U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Colombia, such as wheat, barley, soybeans, high-quality beef, bacon and nearly all fruits and vegetables.

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