The (Far) Backstory of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

40 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2013 Last revised: 2 Dec 2013

See all articles by Stephen Meardon

Stephen Meardon

Bowdoin College - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 10, 2013


In two pairs of episodes, first in 1824 and 1846 and then in 1892 and 1935, similar U.S.- Colombia trade agreements or their enabling laws were embraced first by protectionists and then by free traders. The history of the episodes supports the view that although political institutions exist to curb de facto political power, such power may be wielded to undo the institutions’ intended effects. The doctrinal affinities and interests of political actors are more decisive determinants of the free-trade or protectionist orientation of trade agreements than the agreements’ texts or legal superstructures. The long delay from signing to passage of the current U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is another case in point.

Keywords: International trade agreements, reciprocity, Colombia, free trade, protectionism

JEL Classification: F13, F53, N40, B00

Suggested Citation

Meardon, Stephen J., The (Far) Backstory of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (October 10, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Stephen J. Meardon (Contact Author)

Bowdoin College - Department of Economics ( email )

9700 College Station
Brunswick, ME 04011
United States

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