Advocates of four pending free-trade agreements are getting their mojo back, aggressively pushing Congress to approve the pacts with Peru, Panama, Colombia and South Korea. At the Dirksey Senate Office Building yesterday, top Administration officials and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) led a rally to argue for speedy congressional action. Ag Secretary Mike Johanns, U.S. Trade Rep Susan Schwab and Commerce Secretary Carlos Guttierez also used the event to unveil a new, joint website devoted to making the case for the pacts: www.tradeagreements.gov.
And from Sen. Grassley’s statement:
Whether you focus on the benefits of these agreements for our trading partners, or the benefits for the United States, the fact is, implementation will advance our mutual interests. The story is pretty much the same each time the International Trade Commission studies the effects of implementing one of our trade agreements. Our exports increase, the exports of our trading partner increase, and overall there is a net reduction in the U.S. trade deficit. For those critics in Congress of our mounting trade deficits, here’s one way to make a difference — vote for implementation of these trade agreements. We have an open economy and often provide duty-free access to imports under our unilateral trade preference programs. Our trade agreements turn that one-way access into a two-way street, so our exporters have equal opportunities.
And our trading partners benefit in significant ways as well. Countries with export-led economic growth grow faster than economies with more stagnant exports. Increased access to imports often lowers prices and increases choices for consumers. A trade agreement with the United States is also an important signal that increases the confidence of foreign investors. It fosters enhanced respect for the rule of law. And it strengthens our relationship with an important ally. This is particularly important when it comes to Latin America, which is now at a crossroads.
The rise of Hugo Chavez and his cuadillo cohort can be countered through trade, Grassley argued.
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