From Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks Wednesday at the 40th Washington Conference on the Americas:
One, I see my friends from Colombia and Panama, and I hate seeing them, I have to be honest. (Laughter.) We are, as President Obama said, committed in the State of the Union to our free trade agreements with both countries, but we are also facing very difficult political challenges. But I am absolutely here to reiterate that commitment. Both Panama and Colombia have worked very hard to deal with some of the questions that were raised by this Administration and certainly by our Congress, and I think that we are going to pursue this. I can’t predict the outcome, but it is something that the President and I in particular feel strongly about. You’ll hear from U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk later in the program.
But our commitment to trade is one that we feel strongly about. We just have to deal with the political winds and we need more help from the private sector. We need more strong advocacy on behalf of the importance of trade and why it is good for the United States and American workers. My friends from Mexico, who will be here in great numbers next week, know that we have some challenges on that front as well. I don’t want to ignore that because we have some outstanding trade issues. But again, we are trying to work through those and bring those to resolution, and we’re very excited about President Calderon’s visit.
To win the lottery, you have to first buy a ticket. To lead, you have to stand firm against the political winds. And to enact a free trade agreement, you have to submit it to Congress. The votes are there to pass the Colombia and Peru FTAs.
The Secretary of State also says, “We need more strong advocacy on behalf of the importance of trade and why it is good for the United States and American workers.” From whom? Advocates for the free trade agreements are vocal, fervent, full of facts and good arguments. Shopfloor.org has published 144 separate posts on the Colombia and Panama FTAs. Some of those arguments were good!
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