Key Vote Alert: H. Res. 1092 Relating to the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region, strongly opposes H. Res. 1092, which will in effect remove the timelines established for congressional consideration of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act. The Chamber strongly supports the agreement with Colombia, which will bring tangible benefits to American workers, farmers, and companies while also advancing the foreign policy interests of the United States. Denying the Colombia trade agreement a vote is unacceptable and would do nothing to advance U.S. economic or geopolitical interests in Colombia.
U.S. trade with Colombia has nearly doubled over the past five years, approaching $18 billion in 2007. Nearly 8,000 U.S. companies export their products to Colombia, and over 80% of these are small and medium-sized companies that stand to benefit significantly from the agreement.
Best of all, this agreement will provide a level playing field for American workers and farmers, ensuring that the United States get the full benefit of trade with this dynamic market. Nearly everything the U.S. imports from Colombia enters duty free. However, when Americans sell their goods to Colombia, they face average tariffs of 14% for manufactured goods and higher for agricultural goods. The Colombia agreement will remedy this unfairness by eliminating tariffs on U.S. exports to Colombia within a few years.
However, the case for the Colombia agreement goes beyond business - and beyond trade. The agreement is a helping hand for one of America's closest allies in Latin America. In recent years, Colombia has reduced violence to its lowest level in a generation. The trade agreement will give Colombia a chance to build on this progress. With the incorporation of provisions of the May 10 trade deal, the agreement also includes groundbreaking protections for worker rights and environmental protection. Expanding trade adjustment assistance is also a priority that should advance in tandem with the Colombia agreement.
The bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act established the terms for consideration of trade agreements, and these terms must be respected. The Chamber urges the House to reject any measure that would indefinitely delay consideration of the agreement with Colombia. Because of the importance of this issue, the Chamber may consider votes on, or in relation to, this issue in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten