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Published:November 9th, 2007 03:08 EST
Free Trade Pact with Peru, House of Representatives Approves

Free Trade Pact with Peru, House of Representatives Approves

By SOP newswire

Washington -- The U.S. House of Representatives, with broad backing from both Democrats and Republicans, has approved a free trade agreement between the United States and Peru.

The U.S. Senate is expected to approve the agreement in several weeks, which will enable the president to sign it and put it into effect.

President Bush welcomed the House action.

"For more than 14 years, Peru has benefited from broad access to our markets under the Andean Trade Preference Act. This U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement will help level the playing field for American exporters and investors. Approval of this agreement will also send a strong signal that we are willing to support those who share our values of economic freedom and democracy," he said. (See full text.)

Under the agreement, more than 80 percent of U.S. exports to Peru, including staples such as beef, cotton, wheat and soybeans, would become duty-free immediately.  Because of trade preferences extended to Peru and three other Andean nations, 98 percent of goods from Peru already enter the U.S. market duty-free.  In addition to eliminating trade barriers, the agreement contains provisions designed to protect workers and the environment.

"It shapes trade to expand the benefits and address the downsides.  Enforceable worker rights and environmental standards have been at the core," said House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Sander Levin.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice also hailed the House action, saying that the pact would benefit U.S.farmers by giving their products the same treatment in Peru that Peru’s exports enjoy in the United States as well as help Peru “alleviate poverty by creating jobs and economic opportunities, sharing with the people of Peru the benefits of their democracy and open markets.” (See full text.)

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said the agreement will benefit American farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers and enable Peruvians "to enjoy continued economic growth and greater economic and political stability by cementing trade relations with the largest market in the world."

Acting U.S. Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner commented that the agreement will make it possible for U.S. businesses to recapture market share in bulk commodities and find sales opportunities for processed foods. He added that Peru will benefit by having its market access to the United States made permanent and receiving U.S. support for its trade capacity-building efforts.

The president called on Congress to approve pending free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama as additional steps to consolidate free markets and democracy in the Western Hemisphere. The Bush administration envisions eventually eliminating trade barriers throughout the hemisphere through the creation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas.  The United States partially has reached this goal, having implemented free trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, Chile, the Dominican Republic and five Central American countries.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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By Phillip Kurata
USINFO Staff Writer