‘Years of Delay Have Cost U.S. Jobs… We Need to See Action,’ Says Donohue
WASHINGTON, D.C.—As U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk presented the administration’s trade agenda to the House Ways and Means Committee today, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue called for action on all three pending agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea.
“Four years of delay on these trade agreements with Colombia and Panama have cost thousands of American jobs and battered U.S. market share in these countries,” said Donohue. “The time for talk is over. To create American jobs, we need to see action.”
The U.S. share of Colombia’s agriculture market has fallen from roughly three quarters to one quarter in just two years. In an effort to spur action on these agreements, a U.S. Chamber-organized advocacy mission will travel to Colombia and Panama on February 15-18. The trip follows the recent launch of a Beltway advertising campaign highlighting the benefits of all three trade agreements.
“If today’s commitment by the administration is met, the business community will help make the case to Congress to approve the trade agreements with Colombia and Panama,” continued Donohue. “But make no mistake: the votes to pass them are already there.”
To show the benefits of America’s trade agreements for U.S. workers, the U.S. Chamber commissioned a study that found nearly 18 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with America’s free trade agreement (FTA) partners—5.4 million of which were created by the increase in trade unleashed by the agreements. Congress has already demonstrated strong support for similar FTAs, passing a trade agreement with Peru that is nearly identical to the Colombia and Panama FTAs in November 2007 with strong, bi-partisan majorities.
“The United States has moved the goalposts for the Colombians and Panamanians several times,” Donohue stated. “This is a terrible way to treat our closest allies in Latin America and we must act now."
“The president deserves applause for moving forward with the Korea-U.S. FTA, but the agreements with Colombia and Panama are equally vital,” Donohue concluded. “Let's get them all done—now.”
The U.S. Chamber is secretariat for the Latin America Trade Coalition, a broad-based group of more than 1,000 companies, business and agriculture organizations, and chambers of commerce that support the Latin FTAs.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.
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