Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that we have finally reached this important moment. Next month we will mark five years since the United States and Colombia signed the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. U.S. workers and job-creating exporters have had to wait for far too long for the President to submit this promising agreement to Congress, but it has now reached the floor – and I look forward to a bipartisan vote to approve the agreement.
This agreement, like our other trade agreements, will create well-paid American jobs without any government spending. I like to call our trade agreements “Sell American” agreements because they lower other countries’ barriers to American goods and services. More U.S. exports translate into more U.S. jobs. With over 90 percent of consumers living outside our borders, we must look to other markets in order to sell more of our goods and services.
The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the Colombia trade agreement alone will increase U.S. goods exports by $1.1 billion and expand U.S. gross domestic product by $2.5 billion. This agreement is all upside for us. Last year, Colombian exporters to the United States paid an average tariff of less than one percent because, under the Andean Trade Preference Act, most Colombian goods entered duty-free. In contrast, U.S. exporters to Colombia paid an average tariff of over eleven percent last year – and now this agreement will eliminate Colombian tariffs on most U.S. exports.
As co-chairman of the Congressional Services Caucus, I should also note that this trade agreement with Colombia will reduce non-tariff and regulatory barriers and provide expanded market access and increased protections for U.S. services exporters. For example, Colombia estimates that its public infrastructure spending will exceed $55 billion this decade – and our world-class construction, energy, engineering, and other services firms will now have a leg-up in pursuing that work, which will generate substantial economic growth and jobs back home.
The United States has been sitting on the sidelines for far too long. Now we finally have the opportunity to get back in the game, so I ask my colleagues to join me in voting to approve the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, as well as our other two pending agreements.