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Colombian, U.S. Officials Discuss Progress On Labor Rights

Published on 15 February 2014

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by Office of the Spokesperson


Washington, D.C.

U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State

Colombian Ambassador to the United States Luis Carlos Villegas met in Washington with Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro on February 12 to discuss progress on implementing the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights.

They also reviewed implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said in a February 13 press release.

President Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced the Labor Rights Action Plan in April 2011 to address concerns regarding labor rights in Colombia. Those concerns included inadequate efforts to prosecute the perpetrators of violence against union members and insufficient protection of workers’ rights in labor laws and enforcement.

Since then, the Colombian government has passed a series of stronger labor laws, hired hundreds of new labor inspectors, police investigators and criminal prosecutors, and started enforcing new laws, including by assessing significant fines for labor violations, USTR said.

Villegas and Sapiro discussed ways to continue working closely together to implement the Action Plan. The two governments are working together on the remaining challenges, USTR said, which include improving the system for collecting fines for labor violations, regulating all forms of contracting that undermine labor rights, hiring labor inspectors and increasing inspections in the Action Plan priority sectors, taking steps to further reduce violence against labor leaders and activists, and increasing criminal prosecution of those responsible for such violent acts.

Villegas and Sapiro also reaffirmed a common commitment to ensure that both countries benefit from the opportunities that the Trade Promotion Agreement offers, USTR said.

The United States is Colombia’s largest trading partner, while Colombia is the third largest market for U.S. exports in Latin America. In 2013, Colombian exports to the United States totaled more than $21 billion, up from $15.6 billion in 2010.



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Posted 2014-02-15 10:19:00