The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement apparently came up in the meeting between President-Elect Obama and President Bush, and now the political chatterers are arguing about who’s spinning what. ¡Tonterías!
The real, fundamental issue is whether Congress should approve the agreement. Reacting to this week’s discussions, editorialists again make the case for the economic and foreign policy benefits of passing the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
Washington Post, “Pass the Pact“:
The main economic effect of the trade agreement would be to enable U.S. producers — automakers included — to export to Colombia tariff-free. This would simply level the playing field, because 90 percent of Colombian goods already arrive in the United States tariff-free under temporary trade preferences that Congress recently renewed. With U.S. goods exports to Colombia totaling over $8 billion per year, the pact offers a nifty dose of stimulus for U.S. businesses and workers. While America stalls, Europe moves: The European Commission announced yesterday that it wants to start free-trade talks with Bogota. Why would Democrats need any deals or inducements to pass a measure that would promote U.S. foreign policy interests and create American jobs?
Los Angeles Times, “Seal the deal on Colombian trade pact“:
Resistance to the pact by labor unions and human rights organizations, both here and in Colombia, remains stiff. And with an incoming Democratic administration, the deal faces significant new obstacles. But the gamesmanship between Democrats and Republicans, unions and rights groups should not obscure one fact: The agreement is good for Colombia and good for the United States.
The pact would balance and normalize a trade relationship that is now one-way. Colombia has almost unfettered access to U.S. markets — 91% of its goods enter duty free — but U.S. products face tariffs of up to 35%. Each Caterpillar truck sold in Colombia, for example, is taxed more than $200,000. This is a hindrance to prosperity for both countries. Currently, about 9,000 U.S. businesses export to Colombia, and were this deal passed, that number would skyrocket.
Diario Las Americas, “Colombia Deserves the Ratification of the Free Trade Agreement“:
It is very difficult to understand how it is possible that the U.S. Congress and its Democratic majority have maintained a strong resistance against ratifying the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia. And it is difficult to understand this position from the fundamental point of view that Colombia, as a country and as a government, is an ally of the American government and people. The pretext that there are human rights violations in Colombia and that there is not enough protection for the lives of the trade unionists cannot stand an analysis in view of what has been happening in that country for the last several years with a President who observes an exemplary democratic conduct.
Wall Street Journal, “Obama’s Lame Duck Opportunity“:
Mr. Obama ran with union backing but has given conflicting signals about his trade priorities. He says he wants to unilaterally rewrite Nafta if Mexico and Canada decline to go along, yet he says he’s not a protectionist. Mr. Obama has also said that “now is a good time for us to set politics aside for a while and think practically about what will actually work to move the economy forward . . .” With the global economy in recession, and investors staging a capital strike, an Obama nod to approving the Colombian FTA would send a signal of reassurance around the world.
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