Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What's In A Deal

It occurred to me that I had actually no idea just what this Colombia "free trade" deal was about. Quotes are necessary because free trade deals are never really that. So I hunted through Google news to try to find out and realized it's difficult to find any real reporting on its content. This is about the best I've found so far:

The Colombia trade agreement would lock in that country's current duty-free access to the U.S. market for most of its goods and require Colombia to remove tariffs on U.S. exports and make other reforms to create a friendlier business environment for U.S. companies.

So it seems that for reasons that are unclear Colombia currently pays very little in tariffs to the US, but US companies exporting to Colombia pay a lot and this deal would set in stone the former and then reduce tariffs paid by US companies.

...okay, to the source (.pdf) Unsurprisingly this is about a lot more than tariffs. Knocks down a variety of barriers to US companies from operating in Colombia and exports our views of intellectual property, etc...

Anyway, this stuff is reported on at the level of "call it free trade so Tom Friedman will support it" but there's a lot more to these agreements and it'd be nice if journalists would actually inform people.