U.S. senators John Kerry (D-Ma) and Max Baucus (D-Mont) claim that a free trade agreement with Colombia will create jobs in the U.S.
In a letter published in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Baucas, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Kerry, Chairman of the U.S. Foreign Relations Committee, claim that the new FTA will increase exports to Colombia by more than $1 billion per year, therefore creating jobs and business opportunities for U.S. exporters. They also write that increasing trade between the U.S. and Colombia is vital for economic innovation, growth and recovery from the economic crisis.
Over the last two years, the U.S. share of Colombia’s corn, wheat and soybean imports dropped by more than 60%, the senators say, adding that Argentina is now Colombia’s key agricultural supplier and China is now Colombia’s second most significant global trading partner, having tripled its share of the Colombian market in the past two years.
“Each day we fail to act costs American jobs and sales,” as Colombia sends its business elsewhere.
Insecurity and concerns over labor rights have delayed the introduction of the new FTA and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) agreement, and both senators do express continued concerns in this regard.
However, Kerry and Baucus praised Colombia’s success in compensating victims of violence — “homicides of union members have declined by nearly 90% since 2002” — and in returning land taken during Colombia’s conflict land to its rightful owners. They also praised Colombia’s successes in confronting labor rights issues, resulting in the International Labor Organization removing Colombia from the list of countries failing to comply with international labor standards.
However as both Senators conceded, the US Congress must now ratify the proposed agreement and the US “will not realize the jobs and opportunities that the Colombia agreement and TAA have the potential to create if Washington fails to act and….restore a….bipartisan consensus on trade.”
The FTA was originally signed by former U.S. President George W. Bush and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in 2006, but because of resistance by the Democratic majority in Congress was never presented for a vote.