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Camp Announces Hearing on the Pending Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea and the Creation of U.S. Jobs
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) today announced that the Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea and the creation of U.S. jobs. The hearing will take place on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 A.M.
Each of the three trade agreements would open new markets to U.S. exports and, in turn, benefit American businesses, farmers, workers, and consumers. The independent U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated that the three pending trade agreements, combined, would increase U.S. exports by at least $13 billion. The benefits of trade agreements are also long lasting. Since 2000, U.S. exports to the 13 countries with which the United States has implemented trade agreements have grown almost twice as fast as our worldwide exports.
Colombia, Panama, and South Korea have all concluded trade agreements with major trading partners and export competitors of the United States, so U.S. failure to implement our own trade agreements with these countries could severely disadvantage U.S. exporters and jeopardize U.S. job creation. For example, the Colombia-Canada free trade agreement is expected to enter into force in July of this year, removing significant Colombian tariffs for Canadian agriculture exporters while similar tariffs remain in place against U.S. agriculture exports. Colombia has also implemented trade agreements with Argentina, Brazil, and the MERCOSUR countries. Similarly, Panama has signed trade agreements with Canada and the European Union, which remove a number of key barriers to their exports. The EU-Korea free trade agreement is also expected to enter into force by July 2011 and would provide European manufacturers and service providers with preferential access to one of the most dynamic economies in Asia, to the detriment of U.S. exports.
Over the years, several objections have been raised to these agreements. With respect to Colombia, some have argued that sustained progress to address violence against workers in Colombia and concerns about Colombian labor law must occur before it is appropriate to consider the agreement. However, supporters of the agreement argue that passing the agreement will improve labor protections and express frustration the Administration has not identified concrete steps for Colombia to take to address concerns. Concerns have also been raised about Panama’s refusal to provide the United States with certain information needed to enforce U.S. tax laws. In November, the United States and Panama signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement to address that concern. With respect to South Korea, many stakeholders argued that the auto provisions of the original agreement were insufficient. In December, the United States and South Korea reached a supplemental agreement addressing those concerns.
In announcing this hearing, Chairman Camp said, “Trade agreements are a sure-fire way to support U.S. jobs and boost economic growth by creating new markets for U.S. goods and services, particularly at a time when unemployment is nearly ten percent. The United States cannot afford to sit on the sidelines while the rest of the world is actively concluding new trade agreements that leave us out. The first step to getting back on the field is passing these trade agreements. It is time for the President to submit the three pending trade agreements to Congress for their consideration within six months.”
FOCUS OF THE HEARING:
The focus of the hearing is on Congressional consideration of the pending trade agreements and the benefits these agreements will bring to American businesses, farmers, workers, consumers, and the U.S. economy. The hearing will also explore developments with each of these countries that have occurred since the trade agreements were concluded.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS: