The United States proposed the enactment of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia in 2004. The United States said that, by lowering the tariffs in a few markets and by making the majority of the other markets entirely duty-free, it could become more competitive. While the Colombian Government responded positively to such a contract, significant groups declared their opposition.
In January 1997, the Colombian government under President Ernesto Samper declared a state of economic crisis. They planned to cut spending, increase taxes, and reduce wage increases in order to reduce the budget deficit, which had reached $4.4 billion in 1996. They developed additional plans to privatize industry, including selling state-owned mining and electrical companies. President Samper had previously supported social welfare programs and labor unions but said that the austerity measures were necessary because there was simply no money available.