An Obvious Omission in President’s Good Remarks on Trade

By March 21, 2011Trade

President Obama’s weekend radio address built on his trip to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador to make the cause for expanded U.S. trade with Latin America. From the White House transcript:

Latin America is a part of the world where the economy is growing very quickly. And as these markets grow, so does their demand for goods and services. The question is, Where are those goods and services going to come from? As President, I want to make sure these products are made in America. I want to open more markets around the world so that American companies can do more business and hire more of our people.

Here’s a statistic to explain why this is important. Every $1 billion of goods and services we export supports more than 5,000 jobs in the United States. So, the more we sell overseas, the more jobs we create on our shores.

Absent from the President’s remarks is any mention of Colombia and the ever-pending U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Colombia boasts the second largest economy in South America, so its omission from the address stood out.

Last month, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) also traveled to Brazil and fittingly included Colombia in his South American journey. From the Finance Committee, Feb. 26, “Baucus Meets with Colombian President, Highlights Need for U.S.-Colombia FTA, Renewing Andean Trade Preferences“:

Washington, DC / Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Baucus told President Santos he is committed to passing the U.S. – Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as soon as possible this year. He also talked with President Santos about the devastating flooding that has ravaged much of the country and pledged to continue working to renew the Andean Trade Preferences Act, which will boost the country’s economy, helping accelerate rebuilding and recovery. Baucus is traveling to Colombia and Brazil this week, along with more than a dozen Montana ranchers, farmers and businessmen and women, to identify ways to boost U.S. exports to the two countries and create the jobs America’s economy needs to strengthen the economic recovery.

“Today I reiterated to President Santos my commitment to passing the Free Trade Agreement between our two countries as soon as possible this year,” said Baucus. “Programs already exist for Colombian products to come to the U.S. duty free, but ranchers, farmers and business owners in Montana and across the country are at a disadvantage because their products don’t enjoy that same benefit. Passing the Colombia FTA will create new markets for American products, increase demand and create jobs in the U.S., which is why we need to act quickly. During my trip, I met with labor leaders and criminal prosecutors, and I told President Santos that it is important for Colombia to build on the progress it has made protecting labor rights and reducing labor violence and this FTA will accelerate this progress. I also made a commitment to President Santos to continue fighting to renew the Andean Trade Preference Act to help Colombia’s people and increase opportunities for both our economies to grow.”

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