President Bush spent a fair amount of time this evening talking about the importance of trade to the U.S. economy and jobs, highlighting the value of the pending Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Prosperity and freedom, especially of our Latin American allies and trading partners, well deserved the attention.
Congressman Jim McCrery (R-LA), ranking member of the Ways & Means Committee, issued a statement in response to the State of the Union.
I commend the President for stating that passage of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement is a high priority. Colombia is a vital partner in the region, and the Uribe government has made tremendous progress in reducing the level of violence in that country.
Other countries in the region are watching this debate closely, and if we fail to pass this agreement, those opposed to democracy and free markets will portray the U.S. as an unreliable ally.
Moreover, the United States already provides duty-free access to most imports from Colombia while U.S. exports to Colombia face significant trade barriers. Passage of this Agreement will provide new business opportunities and jobs for U.S. workers, without increasing the competition U.S. firms face from Columbia imports.
McCrery noted that the agreement with Korea would open a market worth nearly $900 billion to U.S. exporters — at a time when exports are keeping U.S. economic growth moving.
McCrery concluded: “The forward-looking speech comes at a defining time. It provides us with an occasion to set a path that will ensure our prosperity for generations to come.”
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