On October 21, 2011, President Obama signed the implementing legislation for the long-awaited Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia, along with the South Korea and Panama FTAs and a host of other trade legislation.
After meetings between the U.S. and Colombian governments, as well as work by the Colombian government on issues including intellectual property, international arbitration, etc., the U.S.-Colombia FTA went into effect on May 15, 2012. It is important to note that there are quite a few changes between the U.S.-Colombia FTA and the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), under which companies imported textile and apparel products from Colombia prior to the passage of the FTA. (These differences were outlined in a May 3rd webinar hosted by USFIA.)
The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) is a strong supporter of removing barriers to trade with Colombia, and welcomes the passage and implementation of the U.S.-Colombia FTA. Now that the FTA is in effect, USFIA, formerly the United States Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel (USA-ITA), encourages the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Commerce to develop a cumulation program for Colombia and the United States' other trading partners in the Western Hemisphere.
On September 13, 2011, USA-ITA (now USFIA) joined a number of textile, apparel, and retail associations in signing a letter to President Barack Obama and the Congressional leadership urging the passage of the then-pending U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The delays in Congressional action and continuing uncertainty, combined with the expiration of ATPDEA, hurt USA-ITA member companies as well as their suppliers.
On May 25, 2012, ten days after the FTA went into effect, USA-ITA (now USFIA) sent a letter to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Commerce calling for cumulation between the Colombia FTA and other Western Hemisphere trade agreements. Both Colombia and the countries of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) have free trade agreements with the United States. However, if an apparel item is produced combining inputs from both Colombia and the CAFTA-DR region, it would not qualify for any duty benefits. The U.S. retailer or brand would be forced to pay full duty, which makes the production and finished products more expensive and is detrimental to the expansion of textile and apparel supply chain jobs in the United States. USFIA encourages the Administration to develop a plan for cumulation of regional inputs for the purpose of meeting the agreement’s apparel rule of origin requirements. Cumulation would have a tremendously beneficial effect on job creation throughout the textile and apparel supply chain in the United States.