Uh oh. Looks like someone forgot his Rahm-approved FTA talking points:
* WSJ: US Secy Locke: Colombia Trade Pact Not Likely Ratified In '09. "The U.S. Congress won't likely ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia this year as it's currently focusing on health care reform and energy-related legislation, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said Tuesday."
* Miami Herald: U.S. Trade Representative: free trade agreements underway with Panama and Colombia. "Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Americas Everett Eissenstat told a crowd at the Americans Conference that work was progressing on free trade agreements with both Panama and Colombia, though 'less tangible' concerns about violence and impunity in Colombia have yet to be fully resolved."
What a debacle (and I don't mean the incongruous administration statements). The US-Colombia FTA was completed and signed on November 22, 2006. Since that time, American exporters have paid approximately $1.9 million per day in Colombian tariffs that they wouldn't have paid if the Democrat-controlled Congress had just passed the FTA back then and thus allowed it to enter into force. By my math, that means that Congress' and (now) the President's partisan stalling has resulted in a pointless tax on American businesses of almost $2 billion ($1.9798 billion = 1042 days times $1.9 million) and counting. Meanwhile, one of our closest allies in Latin America has bent over backwards to get the agreement passed, holding hundreds of public meetings, working hard to (successfully) reduce domestic labor union violence, and countering Hugo Chavez' viral influence in the region. Heck, the Colombians even sponsored a massive public art campaign here in Washington, DC in an attempt to improve public sentiment about their country.
And USTR's response to the billions in needless tariffs and the Colombians' humbling efforts? Ummmmm...
Speaking Thursday [Sept. 24, 2009] at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference Town Hall on Capitol Hill, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk stressed the importance of passing health insurance reform. Reforming the health care system is a trade priority - because American businesses and workers can't take full advantage of job-creating trade opportunities as long as our health care system drains their resources. Health reform will help to grow America's global economic competitiveness.
Oh, right. That makes perfect sense.
(Please note extreme sarcasm and disgust.)
In 2008, Scott Lincicome served as a senior trade policy adviser for Senator John McCain’s Presidential campaign. He blogs at http://lincicome.blogspot.com/