We expect a House vote Wednesday on H.R. 3688, the implementing legislation for the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, aka Free Trade Agreement. The arguments for the agreement are overwhelming for U.S.-based manufacturers and exporters.
As President Bush said today in remarks at the White House Forum on Trade and Investment, trade agreements with Peru and then Colombia and Panama represent an opportunity promote both economic growth and democratic principles in Latin America.
The first three of these agreements are with vital trade partners in our own hemisphere, in our own neighborhood. Together, Peru, Colombia, and Panama represent 75 million potential customers with a combined GDP of $245 billion. Over the last five years, American exports to these countries have nearly doubled. Yet our products still face significant tariffs when they enter these markets. By passing free trade agreements, we can eliminate many of the tariffs, we can level the playing field for our products, we can provide new legal — new opportunities and legal protections for our investors, and we can strengthen our friendship with fellow democracies.
Farm groups, too, are lined up in support of the Peru agreement. For example, from the Nebraska Farm Bureau, via its vice president, Rob Robertson:
Currently U.S. agriculture faces an average tariff of 18 percent exporting into Peru. But 99 percent of agricultural products from Peru enter the U.S. duty-free because of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA).
Recent action by Congress to extend the ATPDEA is to the disadvantage of U.S. farmers and ranchers. It allows Peru continued duty-free access and provides nothing for U.S. agriculture except competition in our own market.
Passage of the Peru TPA would give U.S. agriculture the same open access to Peru as Peru has in our market under ATPDEA. Quick passage of the Peru TPA will help demonstrate to U.S. farmers and ranchers that Congress is committed to promoting U.S. agricultural trade.
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