Congress has approved a free trade agreement with Colombia, a strong ally that is seeking to establish a viable democracy after years of drug-related violence and insurgencies.

Both the House and Senate voted to approve the trade accord with Colombia on Wednesday after passing free trade agreements with South Korea and Panama.

Almost all Colombian goods already enter the U.S. duty-free, but Colombia imposes duties averaging about 14 percent on American manufactured goods. The Obama administration says the agreement will boost U.S. exports, about $12 billion last year, by around $1 billion a year.

Opposition to the Colombia agreement came mainly from Democrats who argued that, despite recent progress, Colombian labor organizers still face suppression and violence.


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