Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Extending the existing Andean Trade Preference Act is a necessary measure, but one that goes only half-way. It cannot substitute for passage of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which is of central importance in defending critical U.S. strategic interests in the region.

Amidst the expanding influence in the Andean region of avowed enemies of the U.S., such as Iran and Venezuela, Colombia remains a steadfast ally of the U.S. and a partner in our joint effort to combat illegal drugs, narco-terrorists, and the destabilization of democratic societies throughout Latin America.

Those opposed to the Colombia FTA do not understand that the existing trade preferences give Colombian businesses easy access to U.S. markets but do nothing about giving U.S. businesses greater access to Colombia’s markets. Only the Free Trade Agreement can do that.