- The Trade Promotion Agreement, often known as the Free Trade Agreement, brokered between the United States and Colombia went into effect on May 15, 2012, after six years of political deliberations and delay.
- The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the deal could increase the value of US exports to Colombia by $1.1 billion, while Colombian exports could grow by $487 million
- The agreement is expected to affect the Colombian flower industry, which in 2011 totaled $1.25 million in sales, through its reduction and elimination on export tarrifs.
- On May 15, 2012, 4,200 boxes flowers were among the first products exported from Colombia to the United States under the new agreement.
- The Trade Promotion Agreement is controversial largely because of Colombia’s record of human rights and trade unionist rights violations. Before pushing for the U.S. Congress to pass the agreement in October 2011, the Obama Administration oversaw the creation of the Labor Action Plan, which aims to improve legal protections for trade unionists.
- Unionists in the flower industry, among other industries, continue to question both the effectiveness of the Labor Action Plan and the impact they say the Trade Promotion Agreement might have on their working conditions, which they say remain poor and vulnerable to abuse.
- Following the implementation of the Labor Action Plan, there’s been a notable increase in company-run unions, according to union Untraflores, and a crackdown on activities of independent unions.
(Editing by Lisa Anderson)