The U.S. Trade Representative recently solicited proposals from the public for ways to accelerate the elimination of tariffs on various products and modify the rules of origin under the free trade agreement with Colombia.
Both countries are required to give preferential duty treatment to goods that meet the agreement’s rules of origin.
The trade pact, which entered force in May 2012, allows for moving up the timetables to eliminate duties in each country’s respective tariff schedules and amend the rules of origin.
More than 80 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial exports to Colombia immediately became duty free last year, with remaining tariffs to be phased out over 10 years. Average tariffs on U.S. industrial exports range from 7.4 percent to 14.6 percent. More than half of farm exports are duty free and the remaining tariffs will be eliminated in 15 years.
The United States and Colombia have not decided whether to make any changes to the deal, or even what the changes would look like. Their decisions will be based on the extent to which any modifications may reduce transaction and manufacturing costs or increase bilateral trade; the feasibility of crafting, implementing and monitoring new rules of origin; and level of interest that manufacturers, processors, importers and consumers in both countries express for the changes. Only changes that are broadly supported by stakeholders in both countries are likely to be adopted.
The USTR recommends business groups submitting requests do so after consulting with representatives of similar industry sectors in Colombia and proposals be labeled to cover as many products as possible under tariff headings and subheadings.
It asked for comments to be submitted online through the Website
, using docket number USTR-2013-0017. The deadline for comments is noon, May 13.