Exports of leather goods from Columbia to the United States have undergone a 9.2% year-on-year rise, according to the minister of trade, industry, and tourism.

The bilateral US-Columbia Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect in May 2012, has played a large role in boosting growth, with foreign sales in the leather sector growing 25.9% in the first five months of 2013.

The trade agreement, first signed in 2006, gives the Columbian leather industry special access to the US market with 32 companies exporting leather goods and footwear to the US for the first time.

That comes after previous success with the Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement which saw growth of 29% between August 2011, the first month of implementation, and May 2013.

Both trade agreements are seen as central to boosting Columbia’s manufacturing exports and generating wider economic growth.

"The FTA will be the path that Colombian exporters will use to tap more niche markets for their products," said Sergio Diaz-Granados, the Minister of Trade, Industry, and Tourism at the 28th International Footwear and Leather Show.

Diaz-Granados pointed towards falling imports in the manufacturing sector as further evidence of economic improvement and vowed to stop manufacturers from predatory pricing policies that could threaten Columbia’s indigenous leather industry.

The minster went through a series of further policies designed to "raise domestic production and increase exports." Alongside technical assistance, credit access and business counselling, Diaz-Granados raised The Buy Colombian Programme, a scheme created in 2011 to encourage micro, small, and medium enterprises in the domestic Columbian market.