Ros-Lehtinen Welcomes Progress on Trade Deals with Panama and Peru, But Questions New Hurdles on Trade Pact with Colombia
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented today on the announcement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the Bush Administration of a framework under which Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Peru and Panama can move forward. The proposed FTA with Colombia is widely assumed to face additional political hurdles in Congress. Statement of Ros-Lehtinen:
I am pleased by the announcement that the majority will acquiesce and consent to consider trade deals with Panama and Peru, but my joy is tempered by the disappointment that Colombia may not be among them.
The decision to move forward on legislation expanding our commercial relations with Panama and Peru recognizes that these nations are important to U.S. economic and security interests and that they, as with Colombia, have been critical partners in promoting democracy, stability and security in the region.
It is disconcerting, however, that some in Congress are willing to throw overboard Colombiaa steadfast ally in our joint struggle against narcotics trafficking and terrorism.
Colombia is the source of 90 percent of the cocaine and more than 50 percent of the deadly heroin that kills more Americans annually than were lost on 9/11. It is also a partner with us in Afghanistan fighting narco-terrorism. A trade agreement coupled with continued support for Plan Colombia, offers both nations the best strategy for success against those who seek to flood our streets and schools with deadly narcotics. We must not abandon Colombia at this critical time.