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US, Colombia trade deal to start in May

By The Associated Press

This article was published April 15, 2012 at 12:59 p.m.

president-barack-obama-left-and-secretary-of-state-hillary-rodham-clinton-attend-the-plenary-session-of-the-sixth-summit-of-the-americas-in-cartagena-colombia-saturday-april-14-2012

President Barack Obama, left, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attend the plenary session of the sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, Saturday April 14, 2012.

— The Obama administration says a free trade agreement with Colombia can be fully implemented because of steps the Colombian government has taken to prevent violence against labor union members and improve workers' rights.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk says the trade pact will go into effect on May 15.

The U.S. and Colombia agreed to the trade deal last year. But implementation of the pact was contingent on Colombia enacting reforms to protect unions.

The free trade agreement has wide support in the U.S. business community. But many unions who otherwise support Obama have been critical of the trade deal, saying that Colombia still has an abysmal record of violence against labor union members.

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