U.S.-Colombia free trade pact starts, spurring business

The long-touted U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement takes effect Tuesday and South Florida companies are already gearing up to boost business with a country that is currently the state’s No. 2 trade partner.

Exporters are especially bullish because the pact eliminates duties on most U.S. goods sold to Colombia. Many U.S. products faced 10 percent to 15 percent import duty to enter Colombia, making them more expensive. In contrast, most Colombian goods had entered the U.S. duty-free, experts said.

Fort Lauderdale-based HornerXpress Worldwide, a maker and distributor of swimming pool equipment, expects the accord to increase its Colombia sales by at least 50 percent in the next year. That’s because lower duties will make its products cheaper and more competitive with items from Brazil and elsewhere.

“No doubt about it, a free trade agreement makes a big difference for us,” said Linda Carroll, vice president of the company that employs 325 people. Horner’s sales soared to Mexico after the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect there in 1994. “By taking away duties, it also makes us put more attention on that market for sales,” she said.

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Read: “U.S.-Colombia free trade pact starts, spurring business“ an article by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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