Constipated Colombia Pact
Pres. Obama has made expanding U.S. exports a centerpiece of his economic plan. In his January State of the Union Address, he noted that “95% of the world’s customers and fastest-growing markets are beyond our borders” and that export-related jobs “pay 15% more than average.” At a time when jobs are in short supply, he later said, “building exports is an imperative.”
So naturally, he’s done everything possible to ease passage of the Colombia Free Trade Pact, which the Bush Administration negotiated and the then-Democrat controlled Congress battled up. Right? Wrong.
As I write in Investor’s Business Daily, the Pact is lopsided towards the U.S. in that Colombia’s exports to us are already tariff-free, while our products sent there carry duties of up to 25 percent — an estimated $3.2 billion total since the agreement was reached.
Those tariffs would disappear and, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, expand opportunities for a broad array of U.S. sectors, increase our gross domestic product by about $2.5 billion, lower our massive trade deficit and create J-O-B-S.
That’s also where export markets are opening up. Economic performance confidence levels are higher in Latin America than in any other part of the world. That’s why other nations are busily entering trade agreements with Colombia, including the entire European Union.
Yet in December Obama refused to even send the Pact to Congress. I absolutely will not speculate as to why.
Not at all.
Not a hint.
Well, except that Big Labor doesn’t like the Pact because it means competition for them. And Big Labor donates Big Money to political campaigns, with 90 percent going to the Dems.
But, of course, the Dems can’t say that. So they say they’re worried about protecting the rights — indeed the lives — of Colombian labor union members. Except that the percentage of such members reported killed last year was vastly below Colombia’s overall homicide rate — not to mention a fraction of that of New Orleans.
But, under tremendous GOP pressure, it looks like Obama is finally sending the Pact to Congress — who, we should hope, hashe wisdom to force the president to accept his own rhetoric.