President Bush on Trade, Free Trade Agreements

By October 12, 2007Trade

From the White House transcript of President Bush’s remarks on trade in Miami this afternoon. The President notes the growth in exports that have followed signing of free-trade agreements with Chile and Singapore.

Congress now has an opportunity to build on the success by passing new free trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, and Panama. Today, all three of these countries enjoy duty-free access to U.S. markets for virtually all their products. They’re shipping their goods our way, and most of those products enter America duty free. Yet when we ship our products their way, most of our products face significant tariffs. Our free trade agreements would knock down many of these barriers — and level the playing field for our businesses and farmers and workers. Together, these agreements would expand access to 75 million new customers with a combined GDP of $245 billion. This May, my administration and Democratic leaders in Congress came together to forge a bipartisan consensus to consider these trade deals. And now it is the time to move forward with these pro-growth, pro-democracy agreements.

And the stakes are high. As Congress debates, people across the hemisphere are watching to see if America will uphold its commitment to free and fair trade. In a recent letter to congressional Democrats, former Secretary Shalala — and I thank you for your leadership on this issue — and dozens of her Democratic colleagues wrote this: “Latin America is up for grabs. We fully recognize that asking the United States Congress to vote on these trade agreements is politically charged. Nonetheless, rejecting these agreements would set back regional U.S. interests for a generation. We must not walk away now.”

Others who signed the letter were former Representative Sam Nunn of Georgia, Senator Bob Graham of Florida and J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana.

A strong speech and persuasive case.

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