Tag: Free Trade AGreement

The Free Trade Deal with Colombia Supports an Ally

El Tiempo: Obama-Santos agreement on FTA, with 4 key points

Washington Post editorial, “Mr. Obama’s free-trade deal with Colombia“:

PRESIDENT OBAMA will welcome a bruised American ally to the White House on Thursday and take a step toward mending relations. For the past decade, Colombia has been a strong and steady U.S. friend at a time when leftist demagogues — including the presidents of two of its neighbors — have dedicated themselves to turning Latin America against the United States. Colombia’s reward was to be vilified by labor unions intent on torpedoing the free-trade agreement that it negotiated with the Bush administration and that has been neglected by Mr. Obama, who skipped Colombia during his recent tour of the region.

Mr. Obama’s agreement with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on an “action plan” for obtaining congressional ratification of the free-trade agreement could augur both a political and a foreign policy breakthrough for his administration. Mr. Obama, who will endorse the deal just days after launching his reelection campaign, gets points for political bravery: Though Colombia made substantial concessions to win the White House’s support, the pact will still be opposed by most unions and many Democratic members of Congress.

Bravery belated, perhaps, but very good in any case. As for the unions and anti-trade members of Congress, one doubts there would ever be a possible “compromise” that would lead them to support an agreement. Protectionism is a matter of core philosophy.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Democratic whip, issued a statement lauding the developments.

Today’s development on issues of worker rights and violence against workers is a positive and important step towards passage of the Colombia FTA. These issues needed to be addressed, and I am pleased the Administration and Colombian government have agreed to a concrete action plan. Colombia is a key ally in South America, and it is in our economic and national security interests to further strengthen that relationship. I look forward to working with the Administration to advance the Colombia FTA, which I continue to support. As we work to enact the three pending trade agreements, we must also extend expired provisions of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program that help American workers who have lost their jobs as a result of trade.”

Rep. Hoyer has been a clear and consistent supporter for many years, which also warrants mention as political bravery.

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For Manufacturers, Benefits of U.S.-Colombia FTA

Of course, we knew about these benefits several years ago, back when the agreement between the two countries was first negotiated and concluded.

From the White House Fact Sheet:

The Agreement will remove significant barriers to U.S. goods from entering Colombia’s market:

  • Over 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia will become duty free immediately, with remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years. With average tariffs on U.S. industrial exports ranging from 7.4 to 14.6 percent, this will substantially increase U.S. exports.
  • Key U.S. exports will gain immediate duty-free access to Colombia, including almost all products in these sectors: agriculture and construction equipment, aircraft and parts, auto parts, fertilizers and agro-chemicals, information technology equipment, medical and scientific equipment, and wood.

And, on IPR:

Greater Protection for Intellectual Property Rights: The Agreement provides for improved standards for the protection and enforcement of a broad range of intellectual property rights, consistent with U.S. and emerging international standards of protection and enforcement. Such improvements include requirements for IPR protections that are critical to protecting copyrighted works like music, movies, and software from piracy in the digital environment; requirements for strong, deterrent criminal penalties against copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting; requirements for robust patent and test data protection that respects the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health; and state-of-the-art protection for U.S. trademarks.

And …

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White House Announces U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

From The White House, a statement and fact sheets.

President Obama is committed to pursuing an ambitious trade agenda that will help grow our economy and support good jobs for U.S. workers by opening new markets.  To achieve that objective, we seek to provide a level playing field that creates economic opportunities for U.S. workers, companies, farmers, and ranchers, and that ensures our trading partners have acceptable working conditions and respect fundamental labor rights.  As part of this broader trade agenda, the Obama Administration has worked closely with the government of Colombia to address serious and immediate labor concerns.  The result is an agreed “Action Plan Related to Labor Rights” that will lead to greatly enhanced labor rights in Colombia and clear the way for the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement to move forward to Congress.  The U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement will expand U.S. goods exports alone by more than $1.1 billion and give key U.S. goods and services duty free access in sectors from manufacturing to agriculture.  It will increase U.S. GDP by $2.5 billion and support thousands of additional U.S. jobs.

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A Hearing on Manufacturing with Secretary Locke, Rep. Hoyer

The Senate Commerce Committee holds a hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday, “The Future of American Manufacturing: Maintaining America’s Competitive Edge.”

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Democratic whip, makes opening remarks. As majority leader last session, Rep. Hoyer was in charge of the “Make it in America” agenda, which included divers manufacturing-related bills.

The sole witness listed so far is Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

We hope they both take the opportunity to address the pending free trade agreements with Korea, Panama and Colombia.

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A Good Day in Congress for Export-Driven Jobs. Mr. President?

It was a busy and very positive day for a forward-looking trade policy in Congress, to be sure. Over in the House, Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) called a hearing of the full Ways and Means Committee to examine the importance of passing the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Korea and Panama, and their impact on job creation and economic growth. The National Association of Manufacturers was represented by Roy Paulson, president of safety equipment manufacturer Paulson Manufacturing, based in Temecula, Calif. Paulson exports to more than 80 countries, including the three with pending FTAs, and he was plain, direct and straightforward in telling the Committee that his exports to those nations will increase once their tariffs are removed with passage of the FTAs. (Prepared testimony.)

The same theme was echoed by all the witnesses at the hearing – themes well familiar to anyone who’s spent time reading this blog. The United States, with very low tariff rates, is open to the world. Many of the fastest-growing markets for our exports have high barriers. Trade agreements remove those barriers, drive U.S. exports and create jobs and economic growth here in America. If we chose to sit on the sidelines, as we have for the past four years, our competitors in Europe, Latin America and Asia will seize these markets with trade agreements of their own. Instead of preferential access for our manufactured goods exports, we will be confirmed as the suppliers of  higher priced goods. Market share will dwindle. Instead of increasing production at home for consumption abroad, we’ll be cutting production and losing markets. That’s a recipe for job losses and economic contraction.

As Cong. Peter Roskam (R-IL) noted at the close of the hearing (relying on notes): “The time to say we’re thinking about these agreements is over. The time to act on them and reap the benefits has arrived.” It is, in fact, well overdue, as anyone who exports to Colombia, Korea or Panama knows. We could have had these barriers down in 2007, well ahead of the competing FTAs our competitors are now rushing to complete. The President and Congress need to move quickly on all three agreements in the first half of 2011. The votes are there, as Trade Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) noted at the start of the hearing.

Leaving the House, we move to a bipartisan effort on trade in the Senate, where Rob Portman (R-OH) — who was President Bush’s Trade Representative — and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) introduced a bill today that would move all three agreements AND provide President Obama with Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). (Lieberman and Portman issued a joint news release. (continue reading…)

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NAM Testimony: Trade Agreements Mean Manufacturing Jobs

Roy Paulson, President of Paulson Manufacturing Corporation, is testifying today on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers before the House Ways and Means Committee, “Hearing on the Pending Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea and the Creation of U.S. Jobs.” 

His prepared statement (available here) talks about the reality of trade and tariffs and how enactment of free trade agreements would expand opportunities for manufacturers and small business. Excerpt:

Take a moment and think of the opportunity these agreements will present to the small business community here in the United States. I have had success selling such varied items as patented eye care products on South Korean cable television to Electrical Safety equipment in Colombia. The security products sold to Panama are a continuing source of repeat business, and safety equipment with a 6 percent duty that will be eliminated will be a viable item as the canal is widened over many years. In addition to my own sales, I encourage other manufactures to sell their products in these countries and freely supply my contacts and experience gained from my years of effort.

In all three countries with pending Free Trade Agreements the reduction in tariffs will have a direct impact on sales of our products. I just spoke to my Korean contact, Bryan Kim, and he is extremely excited about the 8 percent tariff being removed immediately because now he is in a stronger competitive position and the market immediately becomes broader allowing sales into main stream applications. He also commented that the Korean consumer’s perception of US products is one of quality and that the Made in the USA label is very important. He went on further to say that the price is critical and import duties are generally paid by the importer along with the freight charges. Eliminating the eight percent tariff will have a direct and immediate benefit and increased sales.

Colombia is truly a special case in South America. The Free Trade Agreement has been sold to the people as tremendous improvement and everyone is waiting for this to occur. My customers have been paying 20 percent tariffs on hundreds of thousands of dollars of my imported products and this has reduced the range of items that they could purchase from me. In other words, from my broad product offering, only the items that they could not purchase from Europe, Brazil or China were being brought in from the USA. After the agreement we can all begin to enjoy a more competitive environment for my full product range.

Other prepared statements:

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Broad, Wide, Deep and Strong Support for U.S.-Korea Trade Pact

The White House has compiled statements of support for the newly agreed-upon U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, with endorsements from John Engler, President of the National Association of Manufacturers, and many others:

Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Representative Dave Camp (R-MI)
Representative Sander Levin (D-MI)
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA)
Rep. Kevin Brady (D-TX)

Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Company
Thomas J. Donohue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO
Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE
Jim McNerney, Chairman, President and CEO of The Boeing Company and Chairman of Business Roundtable’s International Engagement Initiative
(continue reading…)

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USTR: ‘Substantial Progress’ Made on U.S.-Korea Trade Pact

A flurry of news reports this morning about a deal being reached between U.S. and South Korean negotiators on a free trade negotiation.

U.S. Trade Representative’s Office:

United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk made the following statement on Friday morning in Columbia, Maryland, at the conclusion of meetings with Korean Minister for Trade Kim Jong-hoon to discuss issues related to the U.S.-Korea trade agreement.

“We’ve made substantial progress in our discussions. It’s time now for the leaders to review this progress before we move forward.”

From The Hill, “U.S. cites ‘substantial progress’ in trade talks amid report of possible deal“:

President Obama’s trade chief says the U.S. and South Korea have made progress but stopped short of announcing a trade deal.

In a statement, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said he and Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon had made “substantial progress” and that it was time for leaders to review their work “before we move forward.”

Kirk spoke after South Korean media reported a possible deal between the two sides. The Yonhap News Agency, quoting the South Korean embassy, reported the two sides had reached “a substantial outcome.”

Yonhap News Agency (Korea), “S. Korea, U.S. reach deal on FTA: embassy“:
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) — South Korea and the United States have reached a deal on a free trade agreement (FTA) pending for more than three years over U.S. demands for wider access to the South Korean auto and beef markets, the South Korean embassy here said Friday.

“We’ve produced a substantial outcome on the autos and other limited areas during the ongoing talks,” the embassy said in a statement. “A final announcement will be made after the delegations reported outcome to their respective governments for confirmation.”

The chief South Korean trade negotiator will leave for Seoul early Friday after concluding the fourth and final day of talks on a free trade deal with the United States here, a South Korean official said.

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From Korea and on to Japan

From the joint news conference held Thursday by President Obama and President Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea.

President Lee:

Now, with regards to the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, President Obama and I agreed that we will give my trade minister and the U.S. Trade Representative more time so that they can finalize the technical issues. And President Obama and I will continue to work together so that we can have a mutually acceptable agreement at the earliest possible date.

President Obama:

As President Lee just noted, we discussed the need to keep moving forward towards a U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, which would create jobs and prosperity in both our countries.  We believe that such an agreement, if done right, can be a win-win for our people.  It could be a win for the United States because it would increase the export of American goods by some $10 billion, and billions more in services, supporting more than 70,000 jobs back home.

It could be a win for South Korea, with more access to the American economy, which would support jobs, raise living standards, and offer more choices for Korean consumers.  And it could be a win for the overall economic partnership between our two countries by bringing us closer together, allowing us to benefit from each other’s innovations, and ensuring strong protections for workers’ rights and the environment.

So we have asked our teams to work tirelessly in the coming days and weeks to get this completed, and we are confident that we will do so.  And President Lee in fact asked his team to come to Washington in the near future to continue these discussions.  So I appreciate all the efforts that he’s making on this issue.

And here’s a selection of reading to catch up on the President’s trip to Asia and negotiations over the U.S.-Korea FTA:

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As Korea Trade Agreement Waits, U.S. Influence Ebbs in Asia

Ambassador Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative, and his Korean counterpart, Trade Minister Kim, are meeting in San Francisco today to discuss issues surrounding the automotive and beef provisions in the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement. You will recall that this summer, President Obama met with Korean President Lee and announced the two countries would discuss outstanding issues on autos and beef where the U.S. government had some concerns.

President Obama set the November 11-12 2010 G-20 meeting in Seoul as the date by which these discussions should be concluded and an agreement reached for submission to Congress.

So, there’s a lot riding on the meeting today between Kirk and Kim. As I noted yesterday in a Reuters article, no one expects the two Trade Ministers to come to an agreement today – but it’s a great opportunity for them to have an in-depth, frank and open discussion on what needs to be done and how it can be done. This meeting will, if past history is any guide, be followed by additional discussions and meetings, leading up to an agreement that President’s Obama and Lee can at some point around the G-20 meetings.

The National Association of Manufacturers certainly encourages the two Ministers to keep talking and moving forward. This agreement is extremely important to manufacturing in America – Korea is one of our largest trade partners and an key export market for our manufacturing products. Manufactured goods are almost two-thirds of all U.S. exports of goods and services to Korea.  I don’t discount the key importance the agreement has to our agriculture and services sectors, but this is overwhelmingly a manufacturing agreement.

There are clear economic consequences if an agreement cannot be reached. On Monday, U.S.  columnist Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute had a piece, “Korea Pact Essential to the U.S.” published in The Australian newspaper. He started off by noting:

US unemployment remains high. China is ever more confident and has displaced America as the No 1 trading partner with leading East Asian states. How have the Obama administration and Democratic congress responded to these challenges? By retreating economically from Asia. The US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement sits unratified in Washington. This policy was remarkable for both its economic and geostrategic folly.

My emphasis. I should note the Australians are racing toward the finish line of their own bilateral FTA with Korea. Bandow continues: (continue reading…)

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