As the US seeks to reap the benefits of free trade throughout the world, it is imperative that agreements are reached with our regional trading partners. The past two administrations have secured Free Trade Agreements with multiple Central and South American countries. Agreements with both Peru and Colombia were signed in 2006; however, the ratification process was not the same for both agreements. The US-Peru Trade Promotion Act (US-Peru TPA) was ratified on December 14, 2007 and entered into force on February 1, 2009. On the other hand, the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (US-Colombia TPA) was ratified by Congress on October 12, 2011 and has not yet entered into force.
Both nations previously benefited from the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), but in a very unusual twist, even after the US-Peru TPA entered into force, ATPDEA benefits for Peru continued to apply for some time (see our earlier Free Trade Agreement Series Part 3 for details).
As of this writing, Colombia still enjoys preferential treatment from ATPDEA, pending implementation of the US-Colombia agreement. Like all other Free Trade Agreements other than that with Peru, once the Colombian agreement enters into force, ATPDEA benefits for Colombia will immediately end. As an example of the effect of this, imagine an importer of suits and garments from Colombia now using Peruvian woolen cloth. Prior to these FTAs being implemented, cumulation rules allowed them to claim ATPDEA benefits and full duty free treatment when importing to the US, since all of the labor and material was ATPDEA regional. However, a year after the Peruvian FTA entered into force, this importer could no longer use Peruvian wools and still claim ATPDEA preferential treatment since Peruvian fabrics were stripped from all their ATPDEA benefits. The garments would now have to be duty-paid, even though all of the labor and components come from duty-free origins.
While it is true that the US-Colombia TPA has not yet entered into force, the agreement is expected to do so once the Colombian government meets certain requirements later in 2012. This could happen very quickly, so those who import from Colombia, especially textiles that will all become duty-free once the agreement is implemented, be forewarned that ATPDEA benefits will end for Colombia when the US-Colombia TPA enters into force. This means that any other ATPDEA content (Ecuadorian) would be excluded from duty free treatment if imported via Colombia. Be prepared to claim for preferential treatment under the US-Colombia TPA, which will require different filing procedures than you are now accustomed to.
Here is a link for claiming preferential treatment under US-Peru TPA: http://export.gov/FTA/peru/eg_main_017979.asp
There is currently no similar link to the US-Colombian TPA since the agreement is not yet in force.
Finally, for those of you currently seeking a “short supply” finding for fibers, yarns, and fabrics not available in commercial quantities in a timely manner, note that the review and approval process of Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) takes several months to complete. The US-Colombia TPA may already be implemented by the time CITA determines whether or not any newly requested fabrics could be added to the ATPDEA short supply list. If this becomes the case, these fabrics would not qualify for preferential treatment anymore. A new and different Commercial Availability request process will be required. Since there are yet to be published any CITA procedures for the US-Colombia TPA here is a link to the US-Peru TPA CITA procedures:
We are assuming that the Colombian FTA procedures will be similar to those immediately above applicable to Peru. We are already prepared to immediately file short supply requests for some clients upon implementation of the agreement.