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House passes Colombia free trade agreement, Senate to follow suit
WASHINGTON (AP) ' The House has approved a free trade agreement with Colombia, a strong ally that is seeking to establish a viable democracy after years of drug-related violence and insurgencies.
The vote Wednesday to approve the trade accord was to be followed immediately by votes on free trade agreements with South Korea and Panama. The Senate was to vote on all three trade deals later Wednesday.
Almost all Colombian goods already enter the U.S. duty-free, but Colombia imposes duties averaging about 14 percent on American manufactured goods. The Obama administration says the agreement will boost U.S. exports, about $12 billion last year, by about $1 billion a year.
Opposition to the Colombia agreement came mainly from Democrats arguing that, despite recent progress, Colombian labor organizers still face suppression and violence.