Frustration with FTA Delay Grows in Other Countries

Agreements need to be sent to Congress as soon as possible.

Published on: Sep 8, 2011

There is a long list of items that need Congressional attention, but U.S. Meat Export Federation Chairman Keith Miller says nothing would provide a bigger benefit to the struggling U.S. economy as ratification of pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.

"The jobs it would create across the U.S. is no small amount," Miller said. "We need to get those products moving overseas and the way we can do it is to sign those free trade agreements."

The delay in passage of the agreements is beginning to wear on U.S. trading partners. Gabriel Silva, Colombian Ambassador to the United States, says the Colombian people are frankly fed-up with the delay.

"It is increasingly more difficult for us to explain what is going on because sometimes it is unexplainable,:" Silva said. "And clearly this is such a convenient treaty, a win-win situation, we basically don't compete in anything. Colombia doesn't produce cars or grain, we are very complimentary so there is no real excuse for not doing this."

Trade Adjustment Assistance has been a sticking point. Unions and Democrats have been pushing for job protections as part of the trade agreements. Ambassador Silva believes that's a wasted effort as they try to save a hand full of jobs they are destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs.

U.S. products have faced tariffs of 2% to 25% ever since the previous trade agreement ran out several years ago. Silva says this is keeping American ag producers from getting their goods to willing buyers in Colombia.

"I love California wine, but I cannot basically get it in Colombia," Silva said. "Why? Because California wines have to pay 15% tariff, while the Chilean and Argentinian wine comes in duty free."

Ambassador Silva, a cattleman raising Angus in Colombia, is urging farmers to contact their members of Congress to encourage passage of the FTAs.