Tag: Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement

Colombia Free Trade Agreement Takes a Step Forward

The Obama Administration continues to move forward on increasing its commitment to an ambitious trade agenda by announcing its support for the last of the three pending free trade agreements (FTAs) - the agreement with Colombia, which has long been the most contentious. This morning U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Kirk sent a letter to Congress indicating that USTR “has completed its preparatory work on the Agreement and stands ready to begin technical discussions with Members of Congress on the draft implementing bill and draft Statement of Administrative Action.” That means, let’s get to work on Colombia. This is a another positive step forward for the U.S. trade agenda. For years, our mantra has been “we want all three as quickly as possible.” We appreciate the work of USTR and the Administration to get to this point and look forward to working with them on moving forward.

Now, we’ve got all three on the line. It’s time to move them through Congress as soon as possible.‪ In January, Ways and Means Chairman Camp told USTR Kirk at a hearing that he wanted to pass all three pending trade agreements by July 1. At the time, that seemed an impossible dream, we were certainly skeptical.

The NAM has been working for years to build support for these three pending FTAs – and we will double our efforts. Manufacturers know these preferential trade agreements – which open foreign markets to our exports — are key to economic growth and job creation in America. These agreements will mean $9 billion annually in increased manufacturing exports to these three trading partners, according to the USITC.‪

The Colombian government under President Santos should be congratulated for their efforts in addressing the issues raised in the action plan announced a few weeks ago – but also for their independent efforts on domestic reforms that go far beyond anything ever discussed with the United States. Their work builds on the foundation laid by former President Alvaro Uribe, who presided over the negotiation of the agreement and who, over his two terms, did so much to strengthen and preserve Colombia.‪

There is a great deal of work to be done if we are to pass all three agreements by July 1. That date was not plucked out of thin air – it is the day that the EU-Korea and Canada-Colombia trade agreements enter into force, and our competitors’ manufactured goods and agriculture products gain a preferential advantage over ours. Our competitors are moving forward, and are far ahead of us in many markets. With today’s notification of the Colombia FTA we’re finally moving in the race. All we need is a good finishing kick to get over the line.‪‪

Doug Goudie is director of international trade policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

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In Colombia, March was Biggest Month for New Car Sales Ever

Upon enactment of the U.S.-Colombian Free Trade Agreement, Colombia’s tariffs on U.S.-manufactured autos and auto parts will fall from 7.4 percent to zero. (White House fact sheet.)

Here’s the front page of Portafolio, the daily business newspaper in Colombia.

The lead story reports the agreement on the FTA with the headline, “After a long wait, Free Trade Agreement with U.S. Will Become a Reality.”

And the graphic tells the story of a growing market: “Sales of new cars rose 79.4 percent in March.”

The story in Spanish is here. From the Google translation, “New car sales in March totaled 32,320 units“:

As predicted by Portafolio.co, Econometrics SA showed that March was the best month ever. Sales broke the record of November 2010, when 30,963 units were sold. Additionally, the March figure was higher than the same month of 2010, which was 18,015 units.In total, the cumulative sales for the first quarter of 2011 reached 78,618 vehicles, which means that growth was 58.3 percent, compared to the same period in 2010, which 49,676 were invoiced.

The president of the Colombian Association Renault, Saulo Arboleda, said the market reacted to offers and good prices and the preliminary figure is “fantastic.”

The front page comes from Newseum.org, which publishes a global selection of newspaper front pages every day. We’re glad to see the Newseum will remain open in the event of a federal government shutdown. It’s an excellent museum, and Saturday it celebrates its third birthday.

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Time to Move the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

The U.S. Colombia Trade Agreement Action Plan announced today on outstanding issues in the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement is very good news. The agreement has languished without approval since 2007, allowing other trade partners time to swoop in, sign their own deals, and capture market share from U.S. manufacturers, service providers and farmers. Colombia is the second largest market for the United States in South America and is an enormous potential market for U.S. manufactured goods exports.

Manufactured goods exports are one of the true bright spots in our economic growth and the Obama Administration should do everything it can to promote, expand and encourage more manufacturing exports. One of the easiest, fastest and cheapest ways to do that is to push through the three pending free trade agreements we have with Colombia, Korea and Panama. Today’s announcement of a deal presumably puts the U.S.-Colombia agreement on track for Congressional consideration – and there are plenty of yes votes on both sides of the aisle for all three agreements – before July 1st, which is the day the Canada-Colombia FTA is implemented.

U.S. businesses have nothing to fear from this trade agreement. It will not have a deleterious impact on manufacturing in America – rather, given that many U.S. companies rely on imports from Colombia as the basis for their business, the FTA will benefit them. More than 90 percent of Colombian exports are one of five things: oil, fruits, flowers, coffee and precious stones/metals – basically, all the things you need for a great date!

Colombia offers U.S. manufacturers a growing opportunity for exports in a stable and expanding market.  Over the last 15 years, Colombia’s GDP has grown at an average rate of 8.5 percent, according to the IMF. Small and medium manufacturers will strongly benefit from the U.S.-Colombia Agreement: more than 10,000 small and medium companies export manufactured goods to Colombia, representing 85 percent of total U.S. exporters.

In 2010, the U.S. exported more than $11 billion worth of manufactured goods to Colombia. Manufactured goods are 85 percent of total U.S. merchandise exports to Colombia.  Last year, we had a $7 billion trade surplus in manufactured goods with Colombia. U.S. manufactured goods exports to Colombia have grown by 130 percent over the past five years. Due to preferences programs, more than 90 percent of Colombia’s exports to the U.S. enter our market duty free – they face no tariffs on their goods.  U.S. manufactured goods face an average tariff of 14 percent in Colombia.  This agreement will lower these tariffs to zero, in most cases immediately. It’s a one-way agreement that benefits American exports and American jobs.

The NAM is pleased that President Obama, USTR Kirk and their trade team have engaged in such intense discussions with the Santos Administration, and we are thrilled to see such quick resolution of the outstanding issues. Let us hope that transmission of the agreement to Congress will be equally as rapid, and just as successful.

Doug Goudie is director of international trade policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

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This Week on America’s Business Radio

Americas-Business-logo.jpgWith oil prices at record high levels Americans are more eager than ever to find affordable, alternative fuels. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), a guest on this week’s edition of “America’s Business with Mike Hambrick” radio program, says nuclear power will be an important part of our nation’s future energy supply.

Clyburn’s state is already pro-nuclear. More than half of South Carolina’s electricity came from nuclear power plants in 2004, according to the Energy Information Administration. “I do believe that if we are going to…ever wean ourselves off of foreign oil we’re going to have to do it with nuclear in the mix,” Clyburn says.

Commerce Undersecretary Chris Padilla is responsible for helping formulate America’s international trade policy. He will appear on America’s Business to talk about why a pending trade agreement with Colombia is important to the U.S. economy and job creation and why lawmakers are wrong to block passage of that deal.

Our radio program will also host one of the biggest supporters of free trade in Congress – Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT). The National Association of Manufacturers recently honored Matheson for his unwavering support of free trade. Like Padilla, Matheson says Congress should approve the Colombia deal. The agreement will open that market to American goods and services and help support an important South American ally, he says.

“We should be rewarding Colombia for the progress it has made – the move to democracy, the move to a secure situation in that country, the move to respect human rights,” he says. “It’s been such a great success story.”

Who will presumptive presidential nominees Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain pick as running mates? National Association of Manufacturers Executive Vice President Jay Timmons, who has been deeply involved in the national political scene for years, will give us his take on who could be vice president.

In our regular segments, Renee Giachino of American Justice Partnership gives us the latest on tort reform and commentator Hank Cox recalls “The Way It Was.” And our program will close with “The Last Word” from the National Association of Manufacturers President Gov. John Engler.

For more about “America’s Business with Mike Hambrick” and to listen to the program online, please click here. And for video highlights and more, check out http://www.americasbusiness.org.

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It’s Slanted Against Us!

The Clinton campaign announced today that they are running a TV ad in Pennsylvania that promises that Senator Clinton will “level the playing field” by getting tough on “unfair trade deals.” As the White House prepares to send the Colombian Trade Promotion Agreement to Congress, Senator Clinton has said that she opposes the trade agreement and has called for a “time out” for trade.

We certainly don’t support unfair trade deals either. So we ask the Senator: How can we level the playing field while not taking action on Colombia’s trade barriers? U.S. manufactured goods being exported to Colombia now face an average tariff of 14 percent, while more than 90 percent of Colombia’s products enjoy open access to our market. Isn’t that current arrangement “unfair?”

Don’t you think what would be “fair” would be for Colombia to eliminate its tariffs on U.S.-made products and give us the same open access to their market that we have already given them in our market? We think that’s what would be fair. And it’s exactly what the Colombian Trade Promotion Agreement would do.

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