March 31, 2005
"I just met with Colombian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Arias and Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Botero and am pleased to be able to announce a very satisfying conclusion to a day of meetings with the countries of the Cairns Group.
"Today has brought the opportunity for me, Under Secretary Penn and Ambassador Johnson to explore ways to work together with the Cairns Group in making progress in the Doha Development Agenda of the World Trade Organization. The United States has shared many objectives on the road to trade liberalization with this coalition of 17 nations.
"Today's meetings have provided an excellent opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to free trade and to discuss with ministers and other country representatives our common goal to advance the agricultural negotiations of the Doha Development Agenda.
"Additionally, in our meeting with our Colombian hosts, we also had the opportunity to discuss the Andean Free Trade Agreement. Two-way agricultural trade between the three Andean countries and the United States currently tops $3 billion a year. Our Andean friends rightly view a cutting edge FTA with the United States as a key component in their economic growth and reform plans. We see the FTA as a great way to open markets and opportunities in support of our broader goals in our hemisphere."
FAS No. 0049-05