For Immediate Release
February 07, 2011
Contact:

Don Stewart (McConnell) – (202) 224-2979

Antonia Ferrier (Hatch) - (202) 224-4515

Citing Job Creation, McConnell, Hatch Urge President To Act On Three Pending Trade Agreements

In Letter, Senators Commend President for Support of U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, Disappointed Not Same Level of Commitment on Colombia, Panama Agreements

WASHINGTON –Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today sent President Obama a letter urging him to not only take action on the pending U.S-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, but also on trade agreements with Colombia and Panama that were negotiated over three years ago.

Below is the full letter the Senators sent to the President today:

The Honorable Barack H. Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C.  20500

Dear President Obama:

We appreciate your support for prompt implementation of the U.S. – South Korea Free Trade Agreement.  This agreement, once implemented, will play an important role in promoting economic growth in the United States, expand the economic presence of the United States in the Asia–Pacific region, and strengthen our ties with South Korea, a close ally of the United States.  Most importantly, it will support hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs here in the U.S.

We are disappointed, however, not to see the same level of commitment from your administration for trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. Both agreements were signed by the previous administration and approved by our trading partners more than three years ago.  We urge your support in passing these through Congress without delay. By boosting exports and opening foreign markets to U.S. businesses, these agreements will benefit U.S. workers and contribute to economic growth in the U.S. at a time when it is sorely needed.

Further delay for these agreements means lost market share for U.S. exports in Colombia and Panama. Indeed, we already see this occurring in Colombia, where U.S. agricultural products are rapidly being displaced by imports from other countries with preferential access. We risk further displacement by imports from Canada and the European Union, both of which are moving ahead with trade agreements with Colombia. 

The strategic arguments are just as compelling as the economic ones. Colombia and Panama are key allies of the United States in Latin America, a region of particular strategic importance to our country.  Further delay in implementing these agreements risks sending the signal to other countries in Latin America that the United States is not interested in closer economic engagement in the region and is unable to follow through on our commitments to our allies.        

Finally, given what we believe is broad, bipartisan support in Congress for these agreements, we would like to make clear that we see no need for further negotiations with Colombia and Panama.  As currently written, they are solid agreements which benefit our nation and our workers.  We are confident that they would receive strong support in the Senate and the House of Representatives. We urge you to immediately engage with Congress to achieve Congressional approval to get these agreements signed into law as soon as possible. 

Sincerely,

MITCH McCONNELL

Republican Leader

ORRIN HATCH

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Finance