As one of the U.S. gateways to Latin America’s economies, Florida recognizes the economic benefits of free trade. Still, it’s rare to see such an unabashed pro-free trade editorial from a major daily, non-business newspaper as today’s piece in the Orlando Sentinel. In this case, unabashed is good!
Florida could be among the big winners from a new deal that congressional Democrats and Republicans and the Bush administration struck last week in Washington, D.C., on trade policy.
The deal on environmental and worker protections is expected to pave the way for congressional approval of free-trade agreements with Peru and Panama, and raise the chances for passage of pacts with Colombia and South Korea. Each of those agreements would create new opportunities for U.S. exporters and investors while reducing prices for consumers. They would invite more of the kind of foreign investments that have created 6 million U.S. jobs.
In Florida, tens of thousands of businesses — most with fewer than 500 employees — sell their goods and services abroad. Hundreds of thousands of state residents owe their livelihoods to international trade and investment.
The Sentinel also appreciates the geopolitical benefits of reinforcing ties to the Latin American democracies, building a bulwark of freedom and democracy against Hugo Chavez’s bastinadoing Bolivarianism. The Sentinel concludes:
In addition to their economic benefits, passage of the trade agreements with Peru, Panama and Colombia would strengthen U.S. ties with those countries. It would help counter the growing influence in Latin America of Venezuela’s anti-American demagogue, Hugo Chavez.
Now that a deal on trade policy has been reached, Congress needs to clear the backlog of agreements, and reaffirm U.S. leadership in the world economy.
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