U.S. Chamber, Businesses Travel to Panama, Colombia to Support Trade
Subscribe today for Free Enterprise Updates
- Latest business trends and best practices
- News about legislation and regulation impacting business
- Business how-to articles from industry experts
- Commentary and interviews with newsmakers in business and politics
Ahead of its trade trip to Colombia and Panama, the U.S. Chamber and its members called for action on pending trade agreements with the two countries, imploring the administration to show a “sense of urgency.”
The U.S. Chamber-led Latin America Trade Coalition, a broad-based group of more than 1,000 companies, business and agriculture organizations, and chambers of commerce, departed on February 15 for a three-day trade mission to Bogota, Colombia and Panama City, Panama. The delegation, which will include representatives from Caterpillar, CITI, GE, IBM and the National Pork Producers Association, will meet with government officials and business leaders to build support for the Colombia and Panama FTAs.
The trip follows the recent launch of a Beltway advertising campaign highlighting the benefits of pending trade agreements with the two countries as well as Korea.
“Four years of delay on these trade agreements with Colombia and Panama have cost thousands of American jobs and battered U.S. market share in these countries,” said Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue in a recent statement. “The time for talk is over. To create American jobs, we need to see action.”
The Chamber’s John Murphy (left, head of table) and representatives from Caterpillar and CITI talk to reporters about their trip to Colombia and Panama.
The U.S. Chamber’s John Murphy, Caterpillar’s Bill Lane, and CITI’s Laurie Lane briefed reporters on the upcoming trip during a February 14 event at U.S. Chamber headquarters. They stressed the importance of Latin American markets and said there was strong support for the Colombia and Panama FTAs in Congress and in the business community. “The administration was slow to realize just how pro-trade this Congress is,” said Bill Lane, referencing last week’s trade hearing held by the House Ways and Means Committee. “It’s significant because it’s the first time in two years they’ve had a hearing on trade.”
During that February 9 hearing, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said that the White House intends to submit a free trade agreement with Korea to Congress in the next few weeks. However, “serious issues” must be resolved with Colombia and Panama before the White House will try to send those agreements up to Congress, Kirk told the committee. Sticking points include labor rights and violence against labor leaders, he said. “Any timetable will be contingent on the successful resolution of these issues.” Kirk is sending a junior delegation to Bogota this week, according to Bill Lane.
U.S. exports to Colombia and Panama have more than doubled over the past five years, and two-way commerce with these countries reached over $33 billion in 2010. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates the U.S.-Colombia and U.S.-Panama FTAs will boost U.S. agricultural exports by more than $1 billion once fully implemented.
Learn more at www.latradecoalition.org