Colombia, Panama — Trade, Democracy

By November 20, 2007Trade

Congratulations to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and the nine Members of Congress who accompanied him this week on a delegation to Colombia. The more Congress knows about the democratic progress and economic opportunities that Colombia represents, the better chances are for passage of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

MEDDELLIN, COLOMBIA—Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez today concluded his third bipartisan U.S. Congressional delegation visit to Colombia in recent months to highlight the significant progress that the country has made toward increased economic prosperity, strong democratic governance, the protection of human rights and the opportunities for U.S. exporters.

“The Uribe Administration has made great progress in promoting social justice, democracy and stability in Colombia,” said Gutierrez. “President Uribe and Colombia have reduced poverty, promoted economic growth and job creation. The U.S.-Colombia trade deal will give Colombia the vital tools needed to keep that forward momentum while removing export barriers for U.S. farmers, workers and business.”

And to the north, talk about your opportunities.

Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) — The Panama Canal Authority said four consortiums submitted papers indicating they plan to bid on a $3.2 billion contract to install new locks in the waterway.

The groups include 30 companies in 13 countries, the authority said today in an e-mailed statement. Participants include Germany’s Bilfinger Berger AG, Mexico’s Empresas ICA SAB, Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. and Bechtel Group Inc. of the U.S.

The locks construction project makes up 60 percent of the total cost of the authority’s $5.25 billion expansion plan for the 93-year-old waterway. Widening and deepening the waterway will allow bigger ships to pass through the canal connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

This Reuters story has a list of the main firms within each consortium.

In any case, given the stakes, shouldn’t Congress be moving expeditiously to approve the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement? After Peru and Colombia, that is…

NAM background materials on trade here.

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