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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 29, 2008

Statement by the Press Secretary

Today the President signed legislation to extend the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) until December 31, 2008. ATPA is designed to promote economic development and reduce illegal crop production in the Andean region by providing duty-free access to the U.S. market for most imports from Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.

The brief extension of ATPA approved by the President will provide time to implement the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and for Congress to take up and approve the U.S.-Colombia FTA. These FTAs will provide U.S. businesses, farmers, ranchers, and workers with duty-free access to Peru and Colombia that exporters from those countries already enjoy in the U.S. market under ATPA.

The Administration remains concerned by actions of the governments of Bolivia and Ecuador, including with respect to the treatment of U.S. investors. We expect to see significant progress on these areas of concern during the ten-month extension period, and look forward to engaging Congress and these governments in discussions regarding their continued eligibility under this program.

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