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Letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi


November 20, 2008

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Madame Speaker:

As the 110th Congress nears completion, we emphasize our support for pending fair trade agreements and urge you to allow consideration of the agreements with Colombia and Panama prior to adjournment. It is with special urgency that we focus here on the Colombia agreement because it will lose its Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) protections if it is not passed prior to the completion of the 110th Congress, making it very difficult to pass in the future.

Increasing open but fair trade can provide a timely and meaningful boost to our nation's economy and foster job creation here at home. Tens of millions of jobs across every sector of our economy are supported by trade. This year, especially, we have seen the positive impact that record exports have had on economic growth in the face of a financial crisis and falling consumer spending. Further, we are reminded that the anti-trade Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930 worsened and prolonged the Great Depression, and we believe that as we address the current severe economic downturn, our nation should not repeat the disastrous mistake of isolating ourselves economically.

With that in mind, we note that the Colombia fair trade agreement would provide expanded opportunities to the more than 10,000 U.S. companies that export to that nation by immediately sweeping away most of Colombia's tariffs on American-made products. It is significant that 85 percent of these companies are small and medium-sized businesses, and businesses this size are likely facing serious challenges in our struggling economy. Over 90 percent of imports from Colombia enter the U.S. market duty-free while exports of American-made products face high tariffs, so this agreement would level the playing field for American companies and their employees.

Inaction on such an important agreement would send a detrimental signal that agreements negotiated by the United States will not necessarily receive proper or timely consideration. Such a failure would severely undermine our nation's credibility as an international trading partner as negotiations on the multilateral Doha Round continue and we pursue other bilateral and regional agreements. As a result, U.S. small businesses and workers would risk falling behind in the global marketplace as China and other countries pursue market-opening agreements for their exporters.

Finally, failing to pass this agreement now would represent a rebuke of a vital ally in South America that has undergone a remarkable transformation under the leadership of President Alvaro Uribe. Since his election, President Uribe has made huge strides in reducing violence and drug trafficking in Colombia and in increasing economic and social opportunities for the Colombian people. Passing the Colombia fair trade agreement would bolster U.S. security interests in the region and further solidify the economic gains in Colombia. We firmly believe that our nation should acknowledge and foster the major improvements Colombia has experienced in recent years by passing this agreement without further delay.

For these reasons, we urge you to allow the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement to be voted on during this session of Congress. The American people deserve the boost to our economy that this agreement will bring, and our ally in South America has earned our continued support as it effectively addresses the many challenges of a developing democratic nation.

Sincerely,

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL)
Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA)
Rep. David Dreier (R-CA)
Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA)
Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)
Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-MN)
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX)
Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL)
Rep. Ron Lewis (R-KY)
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)
Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY)
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)
Rep. John Linder (R-GA)
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)
Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH)
Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV)
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN)


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