Original Press Release
NAM Urges Congress to Retain 90-day Timetable for Colombia Free Trade Agreement
Press release date: April 9, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. April 9, 2008 -- In response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to change the rules for a vote on the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, NAM President John Engler issued the following statement:
I urge the Speaker to reconsider precipitous action to change the rules by which trade agreements are considered. The world is watching with amazement at how America is treating Colombia and how Congressional leaders are turning their backs on fair consideration of trade agreements.
The Colombian agreement deserves a vote on its merits. The NAM strongly supports the U.S.- Colombian agreement. While others may disagree, the agreement deserves full debate and a vote in the House. That procedure is provided by "fast track" and "trade promotion authority" which set the rules of the game by which other countries negotiate with us in good faith - including Colombia. This is too serious to be spurned in the heat of a political moment.
Congress has already approved preferences allowing Colombian producers to sell virtually unimpeded in our market while we face barriers in Colombia adding an average of 14 percent to the cost of U.S.-made products. This is costing U.S. exporters right now $80 million a month on existing sales to Colombia, and those sales would increase substantially if the tariff were removed.
The NAM says the Colombian agreement should be voted up or down for what it is, not stuck in a closet because the leadership does not want a vote. The right path is to let it be debated and let it be voted on honestly with each member of the House voting his or her conscience.
I am extremely concerned that the action Speaker Pelosi has proposed will not only prevent timely and fair consideration of the U.S.-Colombia agreement, but will also fundamentally end future effectiveness of any fast track/trade promotion authority process. If this process is undermined in such a way, the ability of the United States to enter or complete trade agreements with other countries will be severely compromised, both now and in the future.
CONTACT: HANK COX (202) 637-3090