President Barack Obama signed three free trade agreements (FTAs) with Panama, Colombia and South Korea into law last Friday. The three agreements had been pending since their original establishment during the Bush Administration.
Each FTA was enacted in its own bill, clearing the way for each of them to enter into force and make exporting to these three countries easier than ever. Including Panama, Colombia and South Korea, the U.S. has now negotiated FTAs with 20 nations.
The agreements could potentially generate a windfall for several industries and create several thousand new jobs. “We’re eager for American businesses and workers to begin reaping the benefits of these hard-won agreements,” said United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk following the President’s signature. “We know that more exports of Made-In-America goods and services flowing to consumers and Korea, Colombia and Panama can support tens of thousands more jobs here at home. Supporting more American jobs with responsible trade policy has always been our goal.”
Responses from Congress were also uniformly ecstatic over the passage of FTAs that were considered by many to be long overdue. “Today’s signing of three jobs bills passed by Congress last week shows America is getting back in the game. Finally, we are sending a signal to our competitors and allies alike that the United States is committed to a robust trade agenda that levels the playing field for workers in Michigan and across America, consumers and businesses and creates new markets for our goods and services,” said Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “But it’s more than that—with 95% of consumers living outside of the United States, we have to move ahead with such agreements or else our competitors in Europe and Canada will seize these markets from us and from our workers.”
“I commend the President for realizing that these trade agreements are a catalyst for creating hundreds of thousands of American jobs, something our economy desperately needs right now,” he added.
Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer