Peru: US Senate approves FTA

On Dec. 4 the US Senate voted 77-18 to approve the Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA, or TLC for its initials in Spanish). The House of Representatives ratified the treaty on Nov. 8, and the approval process now only requires the signature of US president George W. Bush, whose government negotiated the agreement. Bush may sign it the week of Dec. 10 in a ceremony attended by Peruvian president Alan Garcia. The FTA is expected to go into effect in July 2008 as the two countries celebrate their independence days, starting a process for eliminating all tariffs which is to be completed in 17 years. Peru exported goods worth $6 billion to the US in 2006; US exports to Peru were worth about $3 billion.

Support in the Senate was much stronger than it had been in the House of Representatives, which approved the measure by 285-132. The Democratic Party holds the majority in both chambers, but in the House more Democrats opposed the measure than supported it, while in the Senate vote was largely bipartisan. Senate opponents included independent socialist Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who called the Peru FTA “a bad copy” of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada. Brown said NAFTA weakened both the US labor market and the Mexican economy, generating waves of immigration to the US. FTA supporter Charles Grassley (R-IA) argued that the treaty would help fight the influence of left-populist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in Latin America. (El Diario-La Prensa, NY, Dec. 5 from AP)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 9

See our last posts on Peru.