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July 2011

July 18, 2011

Approve the free-trade agreements

Approve the free-trade agreements

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Opinions/ The Washington Post The U.S. economy needs swift approval of the pending free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Yet a week after the release of a disappointing employment report, procedural disagreement over a program that has provided benefits to American workers for almost 50 years is stalling the entire trade agenda.
Deficit reduction is an urgent task requiring intense scrutiny of spending measures. But it is counterproductive to delay long-overdue trade agreements that finally have a chance of passing over a relatively inexpensive assistance program designed to smooth out the rougher edges of the global economy.
Republicans have argued in the debt-ceiling negotiations that economic growth, rather than higher taxes, is key to raising revenue. At the same time, they understand that the United States will not achieve such growth without the benefits of international trade. Given political realities, the cost-benefit analysis should be clear: better to incur the fiscal cost of renewing the Trade Adjustment Assistance program than to lose the much greater benefits of free trade with three important trading partners.
This is not to say that Republicans should support TAA as a mere quid pro quo for the Obama administration’s submission of the trade pacts to Congress. The program deserves renewal on its merits. Even passionate free-traders recognize that lowering tariff barriers isn’t a boon for all workers in all sectors. For this reason, TAA helps displaced workers train for jobs in businesses that can compete with rising imports.
In fact, TAA is a far better way to defend workers from trade-related disruptions than protective tariffs or quotas. Little wonder that the program has been in existence since 1962 and has been repeatedly renewed with bipartisan support, most recently only two years ago. Ironically, some of the same members of Congress who criticize TAA’s inclusion in the South Korea bill today voted for reauthorization of TAA in the NAFTA legislation in 1993.
The controversy over these trade bills would be merely puzzling if it weren’t so damaging to our nation’s economic interests. The longer the United States delays, the larger market share U.S. producers lose as global competitors fill the void. Take Colombia, a crucial market and a valuable ally in a  trategically important region. While U.S. exporters continue to face high tariffs and declining market share, Argentina and Brazil are already taking the market from U.S. agricultural producers, and a Colombian free-trade deal with Canada will come online in barely a month.
Both the administration and congressional Republicans profess an appropriate sense of urgency regarding passage of the trade agreements. To reach that goal by the August recess, they must end the partisan wrangling over TAA, which is a dispute over process, not substance.
Compromise is an inherent part of governing in a representative democracy. Even in today’s contentious political environment, we must depend on our leaders to find common ground and, in this case, quickly resolve an impasse that threatens to undermine our engagement with the world economy. The reward would be the creation of new jobs and opportunities for workers and businesses across the country.
John D. Negroponte, a deputy secretary of state and director of national intelligence in the George W. Bush administration, is chairman of the Council of the Americas. Mack McLarty, a former special envoy for the Americas and White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration, is president of McLarty Associates. Jim Jones, a Democratic former U.S. representative from Oklahoma, was White House appointments secretary in the Johnson administration. Rob Mosbacher Jr., the president of Mosbacher Energy, was president of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation during the George W. Bush administration. All are members of the Council of the Americas’ trade advisory group.

July 22, 2011

The Huffington Post

A group of top CEOs celebrated Friday as a group of 12 Republican senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama announcing support for a key Democratic demand holding up three trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

July 23, 2011

Daily Caller

Listeners to radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and Sean Hannity know — and likely have used — the flower delivery service ProFlowers. The company, which frequently advertises on talk radio, is calling on Congress to extend the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) and implement the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. ProFlowers maintains the pacts will help them avoid cutting back their operations or laying off workers.

July 20, 2011

USA Today Insert (United World)

After more than a decade of Plan Colombia – the country’s successful strategy to combat drug terrorism in collaboration with the U.S. – Colombia is ready for a new era in its relations with its northern ally and largest trading partner. In September 2010, President Santos met with President Obama to discuss a wider agenda between the two countries that moves beyond security issues to include democracy and human rights, energy, environment and climate change, economic opportunities, culture and education, and science and technology. Colombian ambassador to the U.S. Gabriel Silva Lujan says, “Safety and security are still of great relevance but now we are looking to expand into a meaningful and substantive bilateral agenda.

July 20, 2011

The Hill

As the debt-limit debate dominates the political landscape, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Wednesday that work is ongoing on three pending free-trade agreements and a worker-aid program… “The administration is also working with congressional leaders to pass our pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, as well as renewed Trade Adjustment Assistance, because we want to bring home the job-building benefits of these agreements as soon as possible," Kirk said at Global Services Summit organized by the Coalition of Service Industries (CSI).

July 20, 2011

Reuters

Senator Rob Portman on Wednesday urged President Barack Obama to quickly send three long-delayed free-trade pacts to Congress for approval, rather than wait until after the August congressional recess.

July 19, 2011

In Case You Missed It…Washington Post Op-ed: Pass These Trade Pacts

July 18, 2011

Nebraska Ag Connection

Nebraska Farm Bureau leaders – including young farmers and ranchers – visited Washington, D.C., this week to urge passage of the pending Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. “Congress needs to get its act together and get them adopted. It’s time to stop playing political games,” Farm Bureau President Keith Olsen said Friday (July 15). “It’s not just about the trade benefits for the U.S. – although they’re considerable. It’s about the markets we’re losing because of the delay. The U.S. has lost 50 percent of the corn market in Colombia in only a couple of years because we can’t get the trade agreement passed,” he said.

July 14, 2011

Miami Herald

By Manny Diaz, Former Mayor of Miami

While Congress and other leaders wonder how to create jobs, they ignore a clear opportunity to do so by expanding markets for U.S. goods: the proposed free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Held hostage for years because of partisanship, these agreements are moving slowly through the legislative process, with congressional committees only recently approving the implementing bills.

July 16, 2011

Miami Herald

By Rick Scott, Governor of Florida

Further, the United States is already Colombia’s largest merchandise trading partner, representing around one-third of Colombia’s exports and nearly one-third of its imports. Our two-way trade relationship, nearly $7.6 billion in economic activity, grew by 21 percent in 2010 and has increased by an additional 21 percent through April 2011. Withnearly half of all U.S.-made high-tech goods that are exported to Colombia originating in Florida, our state is well positioned as the main gateway for commercial ties between our two nations. Ratification of the Colombia agreement would mean greatly expanded opportunities for growth.

July 14, 2011

Hoosier Ag Today

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expects to see the Free Trade Agreements between the United States and South Korea, Colombia and Panama, and the Trade Adjustment Assistance program approved by Congress. He expects passage before Congress begins the August recess. He says, "Our sincere hope is that it is done; the sooner the better."

July 16, 2011

The Hill

For the second time this week, President Obama urged congressional Republicans to pass three pending trade agreements delayed over the inclusion of a worker retraining program… On Thursday night, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said the administration would move the trade deals with Colombia, Panama and Korea "very soon." The Korean deal is expected, at this point, to include TAA. "We can no longer wait," Daley said. "If there's no agreement on an alternative approach in the very near future, we will move forward to seek passage of the FTA with TAA."

July 16, 2011

The Hill

Several members of the Council of the Americas trade advisory group are pressing for "swift approval" of all three pending free trade agreements and a way forward on a worker-aid program that is tying up passage.

July 17, 2011

San Antonio Express-News

For too long, politics has prevented the United States from concluding free-trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. With a compromise within reach in negotiations between the White House and congressional Republicans, both sides should seize the moment to set aside partisan differences in the interest of the economy and American leadership….this is the best chance to finalize agreements that will reassert U.S. commitments to allies and free trade while giving a needed boost to the economy.

July 21, 2011

Huntsville (AL) Times

Trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama would boost economic growth and job creation in Huntsville, the head of the business association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies said.

July 25, 2011

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

By Jose W. Fernandez, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs

Florida lives on trade. As a transportation hub and the gateway to Latin America, Florida is the United States' fifth-largest exporting state. More than 110,000 Floridians have jobs directly supported by exports… In 2010, Colombia was Florida's fifth-largest export market, with exports totaling over $2.5 billion. Colombia's primary exports, such as coffee and flowers, do not compete withU.S. industries. By eliminating most tariffs on U.S. exports to Colombia, our exports become more competitive.

July 27, 2011

Seattle Times

By Eric Schinfeld, President, Washington Council on International Trade

At a time when Republicans and Democrats in the other Washington can't seem to agree on anything, there's a job-creation proposal that is strongly supported by both sides of the aisle: the pending free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia…. An estimated one in three jobs in our state is dependent on international trade. Supporting passage of these free-trade agreements will help maintain and create jobs for families across Washington state and increase revenues for a wide range of state-based employers.

July 28, 2011

Raleigh News & Observer

By Larry Wooten, President of the National Farm Bureau

Of particular concern are free trade agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia and Panama that have been stalled in Congress for several years. Now, as the administration and Congress continue to debate their passage, we are losingnearly $3 billion per year in agriculture exports. These FTAs would increase export opportunities for a range of North Carolina agricultural products, including poultry, pork, soybeans and cotton.

July 28, 2011

Portland (ME) Press Herald

There are enough members of both parties, including the president, who see these deals as a way to boost exports and stimulate job creation at a time when the country needs it…. At a time when there is broad political agreement that the United States has to boost job growth, this seems like an ideal time to pass these trade deals and increase American exports.

July 27, 2011

Business Insider

At the Jobs Summit, CNNMoney.com reported, Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue explained the organization’s ideas for helping create jobs. Among the policies the Chamber supports are passing pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, reforming current visa rules so it would be easier to hire skilled workers and others from overseas, invest in infrastructure, boost domestic energy production, promote travel and tourism and easing government regulations, in particular the permitting of new projects.

July 26, 2011

Dow Jones

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Tuesday he believes a framework is now in place to renew funding for workers displaced by trade, potentially clearing the way for Congress to pass free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama after the August recess…. "We believe we have the framework for an agreement that will allow us very quickly, when Congress reconvenes in September, to approve and have a vote" on the job retraining program, Kirk said.

July 26, 2011

Fortune

The Global 500 just keeps getting more, well, global. Yes, the U.S. still dominates the list, with 133 companies, but that number is down from 185 a decade ago. China continues its march, with 61 companies, vs. just 12 in 2001. Companies from India, Russia, Brazil, and other growth economies are moving up in the rankings -- and for the first time a Colombian company, Ecopetrol, made the Global 500. Simply put: If you’re doing business with the biggest companies in the world, you’re not just spending time in New York, London, and Hong Kong. With that in mind, Fortune set out to find the next business hot spots.

July 25, 2011

Baltimore Sun

By Drew Greenblatt, President, Marlin Steel

Here is what I propose that our politicians in Washington do to leverage those advantages and help our manufacturers and other businesses grow… Ratify the three free trade agreements (South Korea, Panama, Colombia) that have been languishing in the Senate for years. These treaties will lower the tariffs on American-made goods so American manufacturers can sell more overseas.

July 25, 2011

Dayton Political Buzz Examiner

Free Trade agreements with three countries would bring jobs to the Dayton area, reported the Dayton Business Journal. According to Business Roundtable President John Engler, trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama would boosteconomic growth in Ohio. Engler is a proponent of the potential agreements.

July 24, 2011

Roll Call

Supporters of pending free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea are holding out hope that Congress might pass the measures before adjourning for the August recess, even as Capitol Hill remains fixated on the looming Aug. 2 deadline when the government bumps against its debt limit.

July 25, 2011

Associated Press

Governor Rick Scott says Florida would benefit more than any other state from proposed free-trade agreements with Panama and Colombia. Scott says Florida would gain 64-hundred jobs and 523 million dollars in additional exports.

July 22, 2011

The Hill

By J. Patrick Boyle, President and CEO, American Meat Institute

Four years of trade benefits for U.S. farmers, ranchers and food processors havebeen forfeited by our inaction on these agreements, and competitor countries have taken advantage of this lapse to grab U.S. market shares… Our study found that passage and full implementation of the Korean, Colombian and Panamanian FTAs would represent an additional $2.3 billion in exports and the creation of 29,524 new jobs here at home. Many of these jobs are in rural areas of the U.S. where prospects of true economic development are seldom presented. The data also reveal that passage of the agreements could increase U.S. exports of beef by $1.4 billion, pork by $772 million and poultry by $102 million.

July 25, 2011

Journal Gazette

By Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Danita Rodibaugh, Chair-elect, U.S. Meat Export Federation

Free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea have been languishing for years. The delay in implementing these agreements already has resulted in significant loss of U.S. market share in those key foreign markets. China, the European Union and other competitors have been working aggressively to secure trade and investment partners while the United States has stalled… These three free trade agreements offer great potential to expand U.S. exports. In its recent analyses, the Department of Agriculture estimated that these three agreements would increase U.S. agricultural exports by $46 million, $371 million and $1.9 billion, respectively, per year after full implementation.

July 25, 2011

Indianapolis Star

By Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Danita Rodibaugh, Chair-elect, U.S. Meat Export Federation

Free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea have been languishing for years. The delay in implementing these agreements already has resulted in significant loss of U.S. market share in those key foreign markets. China, the European Union and other competitors have been working aggressively to secure trade and investment partners while the United States has stalled… These three free trade agreements offer great potential to expand U.S. exports. In its recent analyses, the Department of Agriculture estimated that these three agreements would increase U.S. agricultural exports by $46 million, $371 million and $1.9 billion, respectively, per year after full implementation.

July 15, 2011

Atlanta Journal Constitution

By Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Council of the Americas

Friday marked the latest milepost passed by the government of Colombia in meeting benchmarks mutually agreed with the United States to allow Congressional consideration of the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement. On ice since 2006, the agreement would allow U.S. products into Colombia under the same tariff-free terms that Colombian goods have come into the United States for 20 years. It is a long-overdue agreement based on fairness for U.S. Workers.

July 15, 2011

Washington Post

By John D. Negroponte, Mack McLarty, Jim Jones and Robert Mosbacher Jr., Former U.S. Government Officials

The longer the United States delays, the larger market share U.S. producers lose as global competitors fill the void. Take Colombia, a crucial market and a valuable ally in a strategically important region. While U.S. exporters continue to face high tariffs and declining market share, Argentina and Brazil are already taking the market from U.S. agricultural producers, and a Colombian free-trade deal with Canada will come online in barely a month.

July 8, 2011

Wall Street Journal

In the competitive world of international business, today's dawdlers are tomorrow's roadkill. It's a lesson the U.S. is learning all over again. A long list of U.S. businesses—from farmers in Montana to machinery makers in Illinois to service providers in New York—have been waiting for Congress to ratify trade deals that would reduce big tariffs in South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The agreements were negotiated with the nationsyears ago and would give U.S. exporters considerable relief.

July 7, 2011

Dow Jones

Lawmakers in both parties signaled an openness to finding a way to move forward on passing both the trade pacts and Trade Adjustment Assistance program. In comments to their own panels, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.), sought to salvage a deal they brokered with the White House last week for renewing the Trade Adjustment Assistance program at funding below levels included in the 2009 stimulus bill.

July 6, 2011

Manufacturing.net

By Frank Vargo, Vice President for International Economic Affairs, National Association of Manufacturers.

On the eve of the House and Senate “mock markups” of the pending trade agreements with Korea, Panama and Colombia, an analysis of Commerce Department data shows that America’s existing trade agreements are doing even better than earlier data showed.

July 7, 2011

Associated Press

Both the Democratic-led Senate Finance Committee and the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee will take up the three trade deals Thursday that have been pending since the George W. Bush administration.

July 2, 2011

Washington Post

America desperately needs jobs. Republicans and many Democrats in Congress, along with President Obama, say that the pending trade promotion agreements between the United States and South Korea, Colombia and Panama will help create employment in this country. All that’s left to do is have the president submit the deals for approval in the House and Senate, stage a signing ceremony in the Rose Garden, and go off for a nice summer barbecue — right?

July 5, 2011

Reuters

A key panel in the House of Representatives plans to start action this week on three long-delayed free trade agreements after a failed attempt last week in the Senate, congressional aides said on Tuesday.

July 6, 2011
July 5, 2011

Associated Press

Artists from remote sections of Colombia, Peace Corps volunteers and performers sharing the history of rhythm and blues music opened the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall on Thursday. The free festival, which often draws more than amillion visitors each year, runs through July 4 and again July 6-11. Each day includes performances and demonstrations on the mall, as well as evening concerts.

July 4, 2011

WTOP

Thousands of people from around the world gathered at the National Mall Monday to celebrate diverse cultures at the 45th annual Folklife Festival. This year the country Columbia, the volunteer organization Peace Corps, and the musical genre rhythm and blues were prominently featured.

July 4, 2011

Washington Post

The man in the white hat with the striped poncho folded neatly over his left shoulder steps iconically among coffee trees growing this week near the Washington Monument on the Mall. He probes the green, marble-size fruit with thick, nimble fingers. The fruit will turn cherry red when it ripens, he says, as though the fate of nations and human happiness depended on it. Which they do.

July 2, 2011

Miami Herald

Since Valentine’s Day, Miami flower importers have watched their expenses climb, contending with rising fuel prices and surcharges and, most vexing of all, the expiration of an Andean trade program that allowed them to bring in flowers from Colombia and Ecuador without paying duties.

July 4, 2011

Kansas City Star

Time is running out for Congress to pass three important trade agreements before lawmakers adjourn in August. If the measures aren’t approved by then, their chances are iffy as the political climate heats up. That means the U.S. economy could lose the benefits of freer trade with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.

July 2, 2011

Columbus Dispatch

By Mark Luden, President and CEO of The Guitammer Co.

In the past six months, my Westerville company of nine employees has shipped products around the world… Some of our products are manufactured for us in Kentucky, some of them in China. But all of it provides paychecks for our employees and helps provide jobs for tens, if not hundreds, of our fellow Ohioans and Americans…

July 9, 2011

Cleveland Plain Dealer

That link between exports and employment is a simple calculus that U.S. competitors understand: A free-trade deal between South Korea and the European Union just went into effect. Canada's trade pact with Colombia takes effect next month. If Washington continues to dawdle, American firms could miss opportunities.

July 10, 2011

Detroit News

The economy produced just 18,000 new jobs in June, far short of the 100,000 to 125,000 needed to keep up with population growth. June's report follows an equally dismal May, when 25,000 new jobs were created, and pushed the unemployment rate up a notch to 9.2 percent.

July 13, 2011

The Message is Clear…It’s Time to Approve the U.S.-Colombia FTA

July 12, 2011

Washington Times

By Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association

The time is now. The votes are there to finally pass the long-overdue free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. For too long, Congress has allowed partisanship to get in the way of sound economic policy. With elections approaching, our national economy is in jeopardy as the parties oppose each other’s proposals. The trade deals are a glimmer of hope that politicians could put the needs of Americaahead of their party opposition. Americans want a healthy economy and jobs and Congress must start unshackling our companies so they can start hiring Americans.

July 13, 2011

California Farm Bureau

Ratification of agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama would create significant opportunity for California farmers and ranchers to expand market share in these parts of the world. For this reason, we join with the American Farm Bureau Federation effort to send Congress a clear message from our grassroots that now is the time to finish these deals.

July 12, 2011

Reuters

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said on Tuesday he was optimistic Congress would approve three long-delayed free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama by August. "We need to pass these agreements and put them in place," Kirk said in speech to agriculture industry officials. "We're ready to go now."

July 12, 2011

Washington Times

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday urged Congress to pass three stalled trade deals before its summer recess, calling the agreements vital to U.S. economic and strategic interests. “I know two things about trade: It is a polarizing political issue, but done right, it creates American jobs,” Mrs. Clinton said at a conference of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

July 8, 2011

New York Times

By Dean Norton, President, New York Farm Bureau

Nearly $153 million a year in Northeast agriculture exports are being left on the table as we wait for Congress to act on the three pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

July 12, 2011

State Journal-Register

Proposed free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are important for agriculture and should be approved by Congress, Michael Scuse, an acting undersecretary of the U.S. Agriculture Department said in Springfield Monday.

July 11, 2011

Reuters

A top U.S. business leader said on Monday he expected President Barack Obama to formally submit free trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to Congress in coming days and urged their quick approval. "We've waited for years to get those three free trade agreements done. If we don't do that, it's criminal," Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told reporters.

July 11, 2011

The Hill

Senate Finance ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is calling on congressional leadership to hold a mock conference to resolve issues around passage of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and three long-delayed trade deals.

July 11, 2011

Washington Post

The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee on Monday called for a meeting of members from both chambers in order to work out differences on key trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.

July 11, 2011

Washington Post

Since she was a little girl, Lida Isabel Hernandez Davila would say to her mother, “Mommy, how great it would be to go to the United States!” It seemed like an impossible dream. Lida, who just turned 13, lives in a little town called Aguadas, set amid the mountains of Colombia. Aguadas is very pretty, but very remote. It’s called “the city of mists,” because the fresh, springlike climate produces clouds low to the ground.

July 8, 2011

Western Farm Press

During informal mark-ups, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee approved three pending free trade agreements that will benefit the fresh produce industry. Trade pacts with the United States and South Korea, Panama and Colombia will help fresh produce farmers who depend on export markets throughout the world to compete on theglobal stage. After debating the agreements, both committees approved all three agreements.

July 9, 2011

San Diego Union-Tribune

Generally we are all better off with free trade agreements. Open trade, particularly in these countries, is essential and will help create some long term private sector jobs, including some for our region. Only anti-globalists, short-term-isolationist thinkers and protectionists would oppose what makes sense for our economy. We can and must compete globally.

June 30, 2011

Politico

By Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO)

The clock has run out. On July 1, the European Union-South Korea free trade agreement goes into effect. Then, on Aug. 15, the Colombia-Canada free trade agreement will take effect — leaving U.S. small businesses at a competitive disadvantage in the international marketplace.