The House of Representatives has approved a renewal of the Andean Trade Preference Act, which gives duty-free access to U.S. markets for a range of exports from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The act was due to expire at the end of this year.
The American Chamber of Commerce said that U.S. imports from the three Andean countries in the act have risen from US$5 billion in 1991 to US$28.5 billion in 2008 and provide around two million jobs in the region.
The act was passed in 1991 and was intended to help Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru to eradicate their cocaine industries by providing them with an economic alternative to drug production. Bolivia was removed from the deal earlier this year for failing to co-operate fully with counter-narcotic efforts.
The extension is now awaiting the approval of the U.S. Senate.