Defending free trade: the pending FTAs

The pending U.S. Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia are languishing in limbo, despite the fact that all three agreements will improve the flow of goods and services, foster economic growth and create jobs, and enhance the close relationships between the U.S. and those countries.   That was the theme of the panel of speakers at The Heritage Foundation’s seminar today, “Getting America’s trade agenda back on track.”

The panel featured H.E. Han Duk-soo, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea; Francisco Álvarez de Soto, Vice Minister for International Trade Negotiations, Republic of Panama; and Ricardo Triana, Director, Colombian Government Trade Bureau.  The speakers pointed principally to the FTAs’ benefits to the U.S., not only in economic terms but in its national interests.  Ambassador Terry Miller, the moderator, noted that the three countries are entering into trade agreements with other major trading partners, while the U.S. holds up action on their trade pacts. That disadvantages the U.S., which can’t yet take advantage of significantly lower tariffs on exports of numerous goods and services that the FTAs include.

Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) rounded out the presentations by emphasizing the benefits of free trade, especially in the current downturn, when increased trade can lead to more vibrant economic growth and job creation.  In his closing remarks, Goodlatte hit the cap-and-trade bills currently being considered for the job losses they will create.  He also noted that the proposed sanctions on imports from countries that don’t enact a CO2 repression regime would be a huge mistake and a blow to the world trading system.