April 06,2011

Press Contact:

Julia Lawless, Antonia Ferrier. 202.224.4515

Hatch on U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee that has jurisdiction over trade, called today’s announcement on a trade agreement between the United States and Colombia long overdue, but welcome news to American workers, famers and job creators. Hatch said he will work with the Administration and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to move this agreement forward in tandem with the outstanding trade pacts with South Korea and Panama.

“While long overdue and despite unreasonable delay, today’s announcement by the Administration is welcome news.  Colombia has emerged as one of our strongest allies in Latin America and our workers, farmers and job creators can no longer afford to be put at a disadvantage in this growing economy,” said Hatch.  “We must now start the necessary work with the Administration to prepare the U.S.-Colombia trade pact for congressional consideration - in tandem with the pending trade agreements with South Korea and Panama.   These are issues I discussed with Ambassador Kirk this morning and will discuss more closely with Chairman Baucus moving forward.  Passage of these three trade agreements will yield new economic opportunities for Americans, strengthen our international alliances, and preserve our role as the single greatest economy in the world.   They deserve careful and timely consideration by Congress.”

A longtime advocate of breaking down trade barriers, Hatch has supported initiatives to enhance America’s competitiveness and increase access to international markets. This Congress, Hatch has called for swift action on the pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea that were negotiated by the previous Administration and have been stalled since.

In February, Hatch spearheaded a letter with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to the President calling for the advancement of the trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. He also joined Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus in calling on Ambassador Ron Kirk to put forth a timetable for action on the pending trade pacts and joined 43 other Senate Republicans in announcing his intent to withhold support for any nominee for Commerce Secretary or any trade-related nominees until the President submitted the Colombia and Panama agreements for congressional approval.