President Bush in Jacksonville: Pass Colombia FTA

By March 18, 2008Trade

From President Bush’s remarks at the Port of Jacksonsville:

Last year, we worked out a bipartisan approach on a bill implementing a good free trade agreement with Peru, and it was a good bill. And it was one of those bills where people, when they step back from politics, realize it’d make good sense and overwhelmingly approved it. Both Republicans and Democrats voted for that, two of whom happen to be sitting right here.

The Colombia agreement is almost identical to the agreement with Peru, except that the Colombia agreement has even greater economic potential because Colombia has a larger GDP, and even greater national security importance because of Colombia’s strategic location.

The lesson is clear: If Congress can find a way to vote on and improve the Peru agreement, there’s no reason it can’t do the same for Colombia.

Exactly so. The protections are the same, and as the President argues, the stakes are higher. Colombia is a strong ally of the United States, defending democracy in an unsettled region populated by the FARC terrorists and anti-American provocateurs like Hugo Chavez.

Arguments by U.S. trade opponents that Colombia has not done enough to prevent crimes and assassinations of union leaders have always struck as extraneous, thrown in to confuse the debate (and curry favor with big labor, the driving force in the anti-camp). Would denying Colombia the benefits of expanded trade with the United States improve its battle against the narco-terrorists and crime? As President Bush says succinctly:

If members of Congress truly want Colombia to make further progress, then it makes no sense to block the very measure that would make progress more likely.

It’s a very good, persuasive speech. Please read the whole thing.

And for more background please visit the NAM’s Colombia FTA site:

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