FTA Delay Costing American Farmers
Thursday, September 15th, 2011
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk says he is talking with the Senate on getting the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea passed. Kirk says reaching a deal on Trade Adjustment Assistance will determine the timing of votes on the FTAs.
A handful of U.S. Senators took to the floor Wednesday to talk about the administration's failure to submit the pending free trade agreements to Congress. Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Ranking Member of the Finance Committee called for the President to send the agreements to the Hill immediately.
"I simply cannot understand the president's continued delay," Hatch said. "I am confident that, once the president submits these agreements, they will pass Congress with broad bipartisan support."
Gabriel Silva, the Colombian Ambassador to the United States, has also been speaking out about the delay. Silva said it's costing American farmers.
"In 2008 almost 50% of our agriculture imports came from the United States, now it is under 20%," Silva said. "In only two years and a half the U.S. has lost more than half of their market in Colombia. And our market is not small, we have 46 million people in the country, we put really close to $ 5 billion in cultural goods annually and growing. So it is relevant, it is very important for American farmers."
Silva says Colombians prefer to deal with American farmers and industries, but it's become a price issue. Still, he says Colombia wants to renew its ties with the U.S.
"But at the same time there is a point in which, a point of no return," Silva said. "We are not there yet, but if we fail to approve this treaty during this legislative session in the fall, then we are at risk of not being able to really push back on what has happened."