The proposed Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will lead to greater economic growth, a U.S. trade representative has told a Senate committee.
Speaking March 6 to the Senate Committee on Finance on the Bush Administration's 2008 trade agenda, Ambassador Susan C. Schwab said the agreement “will serve to ensure an active U.S. role in fostering stability and security in a region of critical interest to our national security, a region that is home to some who loudly advocate a different path than the pro-market, pro-growth, pro-U.S. stance adopted by Colombia's current leadership."
The Colombia FTA is a priority for the Bush Administration during the President’s final year in office. Congress recently passed extensions for trade preferences up through Dec. 31, 2008 in the Andean region, which includes Colombia. But many in Congress want a more long-term, comprehensive solution--a free trade agreement.
The Greater Dallas Chamber participated in a teleconference held by the White House Public Liaison office March 5 to address the Colombia FTA. During the teleconference, Steven Preston of the U.S. Small Business Administration urged that the current legislative climate in Washington is conducive to passage of the trade agreement.
Preston said that "historically, significant trade agreements have been advanced in the final year of a presidency. We are very hopeful that this will pass...The President cares about the broader value of America's interest in the region."
As Congress considers the issue, some leaders want to tie the Colombia FTA's fate to other related trade issues. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) restated his desire that the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program to be tacked onto the Colombia FTA before its passage. The program provides financial, healthcare, and training benefits for workers whose jobs have been displaced by foreign trade.
At the committee hearing, Senator Baucus remarked, "I am certain that we must put a better TAA program in place before Congress can move on to other trade priorities, especially pending free trade agreements. I say this not do be rigid, but to do right by America's workers, ranchers, and farmers."
The Dallas Chamber supports continued development of free trade agreements, recognizing that open markets help DFW businesses succeed. For more information on the Chamber's international legislative affairs, contact Jane Edson at 214-712-1937 or email@example.com