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May 2011

May 4, 2011
Government of Colombia Calls USTR Letter to Congress a "Momentous Occasion"

Washington, DC - Colombian Ambassador to the United States Gabriel Silva today welcomed news from U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk that the Obama Administration has notified Congress that it is ready to begin technical discussions on implementing legislation for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

"Today´s announcement is a clear signal from the Obama Administration that the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is a priority, and will soon move forward," stated Ambassador Silva.  "Today marks a momentous occasion in U.S.-Colombia relations. We very much look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to seek final approval of the FTA this summer."

"Delays in the FTA and the expiration of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) preferences have cost jobs in both countries, and have lead to a significant loss of market share for many U.S. exporters," Silva continued.  "For the many Colombian exporters that have been negatively impacted by a new wave of damaging floods, the renewal of preferences is critically important. We hope that the forward movement on the FTA also leads to the extension of ATPDEA preferences as soon as possible."

Once approved, the FTA it is expected to increase U.S. GDP by nearly $2.5 billion and increase U.S. exports to Colombia by $1.1 billion.

Ambassador Silva also welcomed the Administration´s acknowledgement of Colombia´s successful completion of the first set of steps required to be taken by April 22, 2011, as outlined in the "Action Plan Related to Labor Rights," which was approved by both governments on April 7, 2011.

"The Action Plan agreed to by both of our governments last month helped to pave the way for today´s announcement and will make consideration of the agreement by the U.S. Congress a reality in the near term. Colombia believes wholeheartedly in the steps outlined in the Action Plan and is committed to continuing to achieve each of the objectives it sets forth because they are in line with President Santos´ vision for Colombia and our unwavering commitment to improve labor rights and standards and ensure the safety and protection of all of our citizens," concluded Silva.

For more information on the Action Plan, click here.

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May 8, 2011

Globe Gazette (Mason City, Iowa)

By Iowa Governor Terry E. Branstad and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey

The reality is that 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside of the United States and passing these three trade agreements will give Iowa's farmers, manufacturers and other businesses access to these growing markets… The Panama and Colombia agreements would also significantly reduce the trade barriers facing Iowa agricultural products and nationwide job growth estimates for the three trade agreements total nearly 30,000 jobs in the beef, pork, and poultry industries - with approximately 5,000 new jobs for Iowa alone.

May 4, 2011

Southeast Farm Press

By Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation

America’s farmers and ranchers have a huge stake in global trade and the current FTAs with Korea, Colombia and Panama that are pending before Congress. Combined, the three agreements represent nearly $2.5 billion in U.S. agriculture exports. These FTAs should be in the forefront of every farmer’s and rancher’s thoughts.

May 4, 2011

Daily Caller

By Ryan Young, Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute

The U.S. is slowly working towards free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. After years of wrangling, they might even pass this summer. President Obama is making the agreements a priority… Low trade barriers allow the world to come together. Imagine having nearly 7 billion specialists instead of 300 million. The upcoming trade agreements won’t open up the whole world to trade, obviously. But they are a small step in the right direction, and deserve to be passed.

May 2, 2011

Politico

By Francisco Sanchez, Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade

Passing the South Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements, which can expand important markets for U.S businesses, is a critical first step toward increasing exports.

May 8, 2011

Huffington Post

The construction giant Caterpillar is reportedly planning to treat its workers to steaming cups of Colombian coffee in the coming weeks, to warm them to the benefits of doing business with their "partners" in Latin America. While employees enjoy their break, lobbyists will be working hard, in their name, to peddle so-called "open markets" in Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

May 6, 2011

The Hill

A group of food and beverage manufacturers says exports will grow and jobs will be created with passage of three pending free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. In a Thursday letter to congressional leaders — Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), — the group said implementation of the trade deals would help expand the already $2 billion in exports of food and beverage products to those three nations while leading to more U.S. jobs.

May 6, 2011

Associated Press

The U.S. Commerce undersecretary for international trade says he is confident the Colombian Free Trade Agreement can happen this year. Undersecretary Francisco Sanchez told The Associated Press on Friday during a trip to Miami that the Obama administration is pleased with the recent steps the Colombian government has taken to address concerns over the high rates of violence involving labor leaders and union members.

May 5, 2011

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

U.S.-Colombia trade agreement that would expand business through Florida's busy ports moved a step closer to completion this week. Colombia is Florida's second largest trading partner, with $7.5 billion worth of goods passing between them in 2010. White House officials began discussions with congressional staff on Thursday, the first step in approving a pact that U.S. and Colombian officials initialed last month. The pact would reduce tariffs and other barriers to encourage a free flow of goods. "The impact on South Florida will be huge," predicted Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican and leading promoter of the Colombia deal.

May 5, 2011

Dow Jones

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said Thursday he hoped the House of Representatives would approve the three outstanding free- trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea before the August recess. "We hope to have them finished before the August recess," Boehner said at a weekly news conference. The Obama administration said Wednesday it was ready to begin talks with congressional Republicans that could see the three trade deals finalized. 

May 4, 2011

Associated Press

Progress on a free trade deal with Colombia has cleared the way for the White House to seek congressional approval of a single package that includes similar pacts with South Korea and Panama, as Republicans have demanded. Obama administration officials said Wednesday they expected technical discussions about the agreements to begin Thursday with Capitol Hill aides, the first step in the approval process. President Barack Obama has made boosting U.S. trade an integral part of his economic agenda.

May 4, 2011

Wall Street Journal

The White House notified Congress Wednesday that it was ready to begin talks on passage of trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, after Colombia complied with the first stage of an action plan to improve labor rights in that country.

May 4, 2011

The Hill

U.S. trade officials on Wednesday cleared the way for Congress to vote on trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The Obama administration will send all three pending trade deals to Capitol Hill as early as Thursday to begin technical discussions, the first step in the process of ratifying the pacts.

May 17, 2011

Market Minder

How long does it take to ratify free trade agreements estimated to boost US trade activity by a few billion annually? Evidently, at least five years. In 2006 and 2007, the US inked free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea—and Congress still hasn't ratified them.

May 16, 2011

Investor's Business Daily

Three days after Congress was told that stalled free-trade pacts were headed to a vote soon, the White House demanded new concessions before that would happen. How many times must the goal posts be moved? Nearly five years have passed since free-trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama have awaited just a vote in Congress.

May 9, 2011

Atlanta Journal Constitution

By Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO-06)

“Opening the doors to free trade in Colombia and eliminating the burdensome tariffs would be an enormous asset to my business. And more exports equal the ability to create more jobs,” explained Taylor… Passing the agreements is a surefire way to spur job creation, spark long-term growth in our economy and ensure that America remains competitive in the global marketplace — all without one dime of new government spending.

May 12, 2011

Bellingham Herald

By Thomas J. Donohue, Presidenta and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The case for approval of the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement begins with American jobs. This accord represents a budget-neutral, job-creating stimulus for American workers and farmers - and businesses both large and small - all across the nation. This is a new kind of trade agreement that guarantees fairness and accountability. U.S. tariffs on Colombian manufactured goods averaged just 0.1 percent last year, but Colombian tariffs on U.S. manufactured goods average 15 percent - and even higher for U.S. agricultural products.

May 15, 2011

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)

By Phillip Nelson, President, Illinois Farm Bureau

Passing and implementing these trade pacts is becoming more crucial by the day. We’ve already lost billions of dollars in market share to other countries, because they’re frankly tired of waiting for us to act. In 2008, the U.S. sold $600 million worth of corn to Colombia, but by 2010, exports fell to $200 million. Agricultural products, bulldozers, tractors, off-highway trucks and chemicals would all enter Colombia duty-free.

May 11, 2011

San Antonio Express-News

Bipartisan support is building in Congress to pass long-delayed free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. For the good of the U.S. economy and as a sign of U.S. leadership on free trade, the Obama White House should support efforts by congressional leaders in both parties to ratify those agreements as quickly as possible…While the United States had negotiated a free trade agreement with Colombia more than five years ago, it has never been ratified. In the meantime, Colombia has concluded trade agreements with Canada, the European Union and other U.S. competitors whose agricultural products are crowding out U.S. exports, many of which are from Texas.

May 13, 2011
May 8, 2011

Daily Herald (Provo, Utah)

Agricultural trade is not only critical to farmers and ranchers. It is important for the U.S. economy and the creation of American jobs. Every $1 billion in agricultural exports supports 9,000 U.S. jobs including those of transportation workers, food processors, packers, longshoremen and even sales and marketing professionals. By passing all three trade agreements, nearly 22,500 new U.S. jobs could be created. Passing these trade agreements also means leveling the playing field. Currently, U.S. products going into these countries face exorbitant tariffs just to get into these markets. Yet, while we pay tariffs of up to 160 percent to sell to the Colombia and Panama markets, they receive duty-free access to the U.S. market for their goods.

May 5, 2011

Washington Times

This week the administration signaled the elimination of one more barrier to the trade deal originally negotiated in 2007. Finally the administration has come up with a way to accept two other trade deals, with Panama and Colombia, Republicans demand move through Congress at the same time. Each month, delay costs American companies the advantages Mr. Obama said would “accelerate the economic recovery and create jobs.”

May 12, 2011

Cedar Rapids Gazette

An official at a national business organization says lack of congressional action on three trade agreements is allowing competing countries to take market share — and jobs — away from the United States…“Columbia is a huge market for U.S. agriculture exports,” Wenk told local business representatives Wednesday at the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “While we’ve been watching and waiting, Columbia has been moving forward and very aggressively negotiating free trade agreements with other countries, including those in Latin America. … They have swooped in and taken our market share.”

May 12, 2011

Policymakers, Administration Officials Express Support for U.S.-Colombia FTA

May 6, 2011

USTR Letter to Congress: A Momentous Step Towards Realizing The Benefits of the U.S.-Colombia FTA

May 12, 2011

Billings Gazette

U.S. wheat producers can compete with anyone in the world on quality and price if given the chance, Montana farmer Gordon Stoner told the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, which is weighing Colombian free trade. Stoner, president of the Montana Grain Growers Association, told the committee Wednesday that farmers were losing business as other countries struck trade deals with one of South America’s fastest-growing economies.

May 11, 2011

Voice of America

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Obama administration will soon send the U.S. Congress implementing legislation for free-trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea.  Action on the trade accords, reached during the Bush administration, has long been stalled.

May 11, 2011

The Hill

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Wednesday that he expects Congress could take a June vote on the Colombian free trade agreement.  Colombia is expected to complete its second batch of labor-related issue requirements by June 15, reaching a point at which the Obama administration will be prepared to formally submit the accord to Congress for a vote, Baucus said.

May 11, 2011

Reuters

A top senator said on Wednesday he expected Congress to soon pass a free trade agreement with Colombia despite the continued strong opposition of the largest U.S. labor group. "We are now poised to approve our FTAs (free trade agreements) with Colombia, Panama and Korea," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said during a hearing on the Colombia agreement.

May 15, 2011

Miami Herald

By Charlotte Gallogly, President, World Trade Center Miami

A renewed emphasis on international trade is the strategy that will deliver. Civic and business leaders are searching for ways to emerge from a severe economic downturn with Florida’s unemployment rate topping 11 percent. The most promising sectors for economic growth are trade and commerce… Equally important, is the adoption of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

May 15, 2011

Peoria Journal Star

By David Headley, Illinois Farm Bureau member

The FTAs that are soon to be sent to Capitol Hill are win-win scenarios for all parties involved. The U.S. will gain expanded access to these three markets, where the U.S. has been losing ground over the past five years. In turn, those nations get lower prices on better-quality goods. The recent deal with Colombia will protect union workers there from violence and improve their ability to organize. Agriculture will benefit tremendously from these agreements. Over the past four years, farmers in the U.S. have lost out on $1 billion in sales as competitor nations have signed trade agreements and begun exporting commodities to Colombia and Panama.

May 15, 2011

Delaware Online

By Michael Scuse, Acting Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and former Delaware Secretary of Agriculture

These deals will eliminate tariffs on a majority of American farm exports -- including some of Delaware's most important agricultural products like poultry, soybeans and corn -- while adding tens of thousands of jobs to our economy. Full implementation of all three agreements will help farmers and ranchers add more than $2.3 billion a year to the American economy, which will support more than 19,000 jobs.

May 20, 2011

U.S. Agriculture Producers Will Benefit from Expanded Market Access, Tariff Elimination Under U.S.-Colombia FTA