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Brady Opening Statement: Markup of the Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea

October 05, 2011

Next month, we will mark five years since the United States and Colombia signed a trade agreement.  Yet that agreement and our agreements with Panama and South Korea still are not in force, at great cost to U.S. workers and job-creating exporters.  Although we were forced to wait for far too long, I am very pleased that President Obama submitted these agreements to Congress on Monday.  I look forward to Congress approving them promptly, so that we can begin benefiting from the jobs that they will create.

We know from experience that these three “Sell American” agreements will yield benefits.  Between 2000 and 2010, our exports to countries with which we have trade agreements increased 50 percent more rapidly than our total exports.  Our exports to Peru, for example, more than doubled since passage of the U.S.-Peru trade agreement.  

The game clock has been ticking.  While the United States delayed, other major economies whose workers and exporters compete with ours have moved aggressively to sign and implement trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea – and these agreements have undermined our competitive edge.  Until our agreements are implemented, our workers and job-creating exporters will continue to fall behind, losing export market share that took years to build.

The United States has been sitting on the sidelines for far too long, and our workers and job-creators have been paying a steep price.  Now that the President has sent us the pending trade agreements, we have the opportunity to get back in the game – by passing these agreements now.