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Relating to the Consideration of H.R. 5724, United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act

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Location: Washington, DC


RELATING TO THE CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 5724, UNITED STATES-COLOMBIA TRADE PROMOTION AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - April 10, 2008)

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to this irresponsible rule. The Colombia trade agreement was negotiated under trade promotion authority, which clearly specifies that once transmitted to Congress this body must take up the agreement within 90 days. The Government of Colombia negotiated this agreement with us in good faith, that we would keep our word. Unfortunately the majority now wants to change the rules of the game. This is damaging to our relationship with Colombia and damages our reputation in the world. It shows the world that Congress does not keep its word, and this will make any other country reluctant to enter into agreements with our nation. This is simply bad foreign policy.

I believe in the benefits of free and fair trade. I support efforts to remove tariffs and barriers to trade whenever possible and feel that such efforts will lead to increased economic growth for the nation as a whole. With tens of thousands of jobs in my congressional district being tied to trade, the expansion of trade means a healthy future for a number of local businesses, and in turn new jobs for my district, and the Nation.

However, I believe that all trade must be fair trade. The Colombian agreement would be fair trade. Already, the vast majority of Colombian products pay zero tariffs to enter the U.S. market. In fact 365 members of this House, many of whom now stand opposed to this fair trade bill, voted to allow Colombia this open access to our markets. It is not defensible to keep U.S. producers from the same access to Colombia, that Colombia already has to our market. Since 1991, U.S. workers and businesses have paid over a billion dollars in tariffs to sell their wares in the Colombian market. Every day we delay enactment of the Colombia FTA we hurt U.S. workers, farmers, and entrepreneurs who will benefit from opening the Colombian market.

It is disappointing that the Democratic majority has not embraced this trade agreement, as it would mean new jobs for citizens across the nation. New jobs that are very much needed in our tightening economy. Mr. Speaker, I remain committed to the benefits of free and fair trade. I urge my colleagues to reject this rule which would be detrimental to our relationship with Colombia and is more importantly reckless foreign policy.

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