One year after entering the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, domestic exports to North America (not including mining and energy, coffee and bananas) increased by 3.7%, said Hernando José Gómez, NAFTA Czar. These figures are for the period from May 15, 2012 to March 30, 2013.

He argued that although this isn’t the expected result it’s still a positive balance for the country, taking into account that international trade over the past year recorded a decrease, to which the United States was no exception, and that the price of dollar fell.

Gomez, during a visit to Barranquilla said that the positive impact of this trade agreement in the national economy would only be felt in three years, adding that the country has an export supply problem, meaning that there is greater access to the market than products offered for export.

In this area several issues that affect the country’s export supply have been identified, such as competitiveness, which includes the high cost of land load board freights, power rates and the lack of adequate technical and technological personnel.

“There are other issues that I call trade facilitation, which basically consists in having a Customs Statute framework which facilitates the export and import processes,” Gomez said.

He noted that there are cases, such as in the port of Buenaventura, where it takes nine days for goods to be nationalized, from the moment a ship arrives until it leaves the loading terminal. So there are new proposals on the Customs Statute, which would allow this process to only take 45 hours. The measures will be presented by the Government soon.