Over at The Heritage Foundation, James M. Roberts, in a paper titled “The U.S.—Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement: Don’t Let Progress Fall Victim to D.C. Politics,” argues that Congress should drop its threats and ratify the U.S.—Colombia free trade agreement and the other three pending ones. To do otherwise, Roberts wrote, would send a global message that the U.S. is turning its back on an important Latin American ally when more open trade with the U.S. could help Colombia build its economy, help its people climb out of poverty, and have greater resources to address some of the crime and corruption problems in that country.
As President Uribe tries to reduce poverty and income inequality in his country by opening up to the global economy, next-door neighbor Hugo Chavez is tightening a noose around Colombia. Former Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar, himself no stranger to the tragic consequences of terrorism, recently noted that by turning its back on Colombia in its hour of need, the United States would send a “devastating message not only to Colombians but to the wider world.” The U.S.—Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement serves both U.S. and Latin American interests and will create new economic opportunities for citizens in both countries. It will also strengthen U.S. national security and provide, through economic growth, additional resources for the Colombian government to fight terrorists and cocaine traffickers. Congress should immediately ratify all four trade agreements as originally negotiated and restore full funding to Plan Colombia. The Bush Administration and the U.S. business community should use the TPA agreements to begin a new era of economic engagement with Latin America.