Caterpillar Weighs In On Free Trade Agreement

By WEEK Producer

August 11, 2011 Updated Aug 11, 2011 at 1:12 PM CDT

Colombia's president has given U.S. lawmakers a 10 point plan aimed at getting a long-delayed free trade agreement with Washington ratified.

Juan Manuel Santos said Tuesday after meeting with the delegation, which included Peoria Congressman Aaron Schock, that he hopes for quick approval of a treaty signed by his predecessor in 2006.

Backers say the pact would increase U.S. exports to Colombia by at least one billion a year.

Its ratification in the U.S. Senate has been delayed by concerns Colombia hasn't done enough to halt violence--including killings of union activists.

Caterpillar is outspoken in its support of a U.S./Columbia Free Trade Agreement.

"Colombia is an important trading partner. We ship more product to Colombia than we to do India or Germany. The tariff on a large tractor in Colombia adds $100,000 to its price," said Caterpillar spokesman, Jim Dugan.

Caterpillar is also pushing for free trade agreements with South Korea and Panama. The expansion of the Panama Canal is, according to Caterpillar, one of the largest public works projects since the Three Gorges Dam project in China. Panama has a ten percent tariff on U.S. produced goods.