Today’s vote in the House is the first on a free trade agreement since my Administration and the leaders of both parties in Congress agreed on a new bipartisan way forward.
I encourage the U.S. Senate to quickly approve this Agreement, and for Congress then to move promptly to consideration of our free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.
The Peru Free Trade Agreement represents a remarkable breakthrough because Democrats were able to secure enforceable, basic labor rights and environmental standards in the core text of a free trade agreement. Many of us have been fighting for these priorities under both Democratic and Republican administrations, and for the first time, we were able to ensure that labor and environmental standards would be on par with commercial obligations under the agreement.
I commend Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rangel and Subcommittee Chairman Levin for their tireless efforts on behalf of America’s workers, businesses, and farmers. I look forward to working with them as we continue our efforts to help American workers and communities compete and thrive in an increasingly competitive global market.
This bipartisan consensus follows the call we heard from business leaders at the White House this week highlighting how important these agreements are for continued job creation and protecting U.S. investments. Members of Congress from both parties recognize that greater engagement with the world is essential to our growth. The U.S. must continue to seek partners to join us in advancing a global agenda that will help more people realize the benefits of international trade and competition.
The Peru Trade Promotion Agreement will resolve current trade imbalances and break through barriers that have made it extremely difficult for U.S. agricultural products to compete in that country. U.S. agricultural exports to Peru confront an average tariff of 18 percent, while 99 percent of Peruvian agricultural products enter the U.S. facing no tariffs. As a result of this carefully negotiated agreement, all U.S. agricultural exports – meat, fiber, grains, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables – will enter Peru duty-free after full implementation of this agreement.
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