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US, Peru Sign Free Trade Agreement

President Bush has called Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo to praise the free trade agreement the two nations have signed.

A White House spokesman said Mr. Bush spoke with Mr. Toledo Thursday, one day after trade representatives from each nation signed the deal in Washington.

The U.S. says the agreement will lead to increased prosperity in both countries. President Toledo has called the agreement an opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations.

It allows for 80 percent of consumer and industrial products and more than two-thirds of current U.S farm exports to Peru to become duty-free. Many Peruvian goods already enter the U.S. without duties.

Lawmakers in both countries must still ratify the agreement. Some U.S. Democratic lawmakers say the deal's labor provisions are not strong enough.

The United States recently finalized a free trade pact with Colombia and is trying to finish negotiations with Ecuador. The negotiations have sparked protests from small farmers and businessmen who fear their businesses will suffer from the competition.

Last year, U.S. goods exported to Peru totaled nearly $2.3 billion, while two-way trade totaled $7.4 billion.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.