Bush, Schwab to Congress: Stick To Trade Deal

By July 9, 2007Trade

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab is reminding members of Congress of a broad bipartisan understanding meant to allow action on pending free trade agreements. In a letter sent last Friday to congressional leadership, she questioned the new demands that Democrats are making, suggesting they’re meant to delay action on all the agreements. From The Washington Post:

The administration has successfully worked with our trading partners to complete the steps agreed to in the May 10 bipartisan agreement; now it is time for Congress to fulfill its side of the deal.

President Bush made the case directly this morning at the White House Conference on the Americas.

We’ve got trade agreements we’ve reached with Peru and Panama and Colombia. It’s really important for the United States Congress to pass these trade agreements. If you’re interested in prosperity in our neighborhood, if you want to help improve the lives of others, then the United States Congress must honor the agreements we’ve negotiated with these important countries and pass this legislation.

I’d like to see the Peruvian deal done by the beginning of August. They’ve got time to get the bill done. Members of Congress have got ample days on the calendar to pass this important piece of legislation, so we can send the clear signal to our neighborhood that we want you to be prosperous; that we want to help you realize your potential through trade with the United States of America. Trade agreements are good for both sides — it’s good for U.S. workers, and it’s good for Peruvian, Colombian, or Panamanian workers. And it’s in our interest to promote trade.

Get the bill done — Exactly right. At this point, not just economy-stimulating export growth is at risk. Congressional reputations are, as well.

Also, an earlier post on the Colombia FTA prompted several impassioned comments from those who see Colombia’s democratic progress being held hostage by U.S. congressional and labor politics. Reader BBM offers the following:

The fact of the matter is that the Colombian government, though not perfect certainly, is freely elected and respects constitutionalism, rule of law, doing a good job despite the circumstances.

Blocking free trade there only will hurt regular Colombians by retarding economic growth; this will also force the agrarian poor to continue coca production.

As evidence, BBM offers a report on the Colombia’s institutional protections from Freedom House. The USTR provides a brief summary of the Colombia FTA here, and a detailed summary here.

The stakes are extraordinarily high.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • G erman T. Cruz says:

    Yes. The stakes are quite high; however, when you travel low any anthill can be a himalayan peak. It might be time to take the Democrat leadership to Bogota and let them explore the city without escorts and then let them to return and compare with Washington DC or Philadelphia. i might even propose a visit to Cali and Medellin just for additiuonal enlightenment. The safety in those cities is the work of Uribe rather than the kidness of the FARC. Yet, Mrs Pelosi and company seem intent on blind support of socialist NGO’s and labor rackets along with the promotion of a colonialist view of Latin America that is highly insuilting and retrograde. I hardly can’t wait to November 08 to see my friends across the country cast their ballots. The Silent Majority must speak again for the sake of USA and the hemisphere..

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