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Colombia blocked from signing a free trade deal with the U.S., must focus on Asia, says Vice President Francisco Santos.

Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos Calderón

Colombia, blocked from signing a free- trade deal with the U.S., must focus on building economic and political relationships with Asian countries to secure its future, Vice President Francisco Santos said.

“I think Colombia should really shift most of its economic and diplomatic bureaucracy towards India, China, Singapore and Indonesia,” the outgoing vice president said yesterday in an interview in Hong Kong. Countries without a presence in the region are going to “miss the bus,” he said.

Santos spoke after visiting India and China, where he sought to lure investors deterred by the country’s reputation for drug-related violence and kidnappings. Colombia is seeking to bolster trade relations after a 2006 agreement with the U.S. remains stalled in Congress.

The U.S. House rejected a request for action by President  George W. Bush on the trade deal in 2008, marking the first time Congress hasn’t taken up and passed a trade accord submitted by a president. President Barack Obama opposed the accord during his election campaign, but has since vowed to seek approval of a modified version.

Democrats such as Representative Phil Hare  of Illinois and unions such as the AFL-CIO federation have opposed the accord, saying Colombia President Alvaro Uribe´s  government tolerates murders of…READ MORE HERE

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