WASHINGTON — Negotiations for an Andean free-trade agreement are moving forward, though key details in the apparel and textile area still need to be worked out.

An accord would remove trade barriers among the U.S., Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. Bolivia has been observing the talks, but is not yet a party to them. The next round of negotiations is scheduled in the Washington area the week of Nov. 14.

Trade officials met here last week to take stock of the discussions, which face a key window of opportunity in November. After Thanksgiving, a World Trade Organization meeting to move along global trade talks will require even more attention, and elections in some of the countries would complicate the timetable.

For the year ending Aug. 31, apparel and textile imports from the Andean countries, including Bolivia, rose 2.4 percent to 285.9 million square meter equivalents, worth $1.48 billion.

A U.S. trade official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a deal might be reached next month.

“We think it’s possible, but we’re not making predictions,” the official said. “Within the textile area, we’ve closed out and reached agreement on things like the customs cooperation aspect, so really the main remaining aspect relates to the rules of origin and finalizing the tariff framework. We’re not there yet, but intensive talks are continuing.”

Rules of origin regulate the content and production of goods.

This story first appeared in the October 24, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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