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Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States


Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States

Congressman Bilbray Urges President to Move on Panama Trade Agreement

Congressman Brian Bilbray recently sent President Obama a letter calling on the president to support the Panama Free Trade Agreement. The letter, signed by 44 members of the House of Representatives, including bi-partisan support from five Democrats willing to spend political capital to support the letter, requested that the Obama Administration act swiftly to pass the Panama Free Trade Agreement.

"The Panama Trade Promotion Agreement would allow 88 percent of U.S. exports to enter Panama duty free upon implementation," said Congressman Bilbray in the letter. "Within 17 years of approval, 100 percent of Panamanian tariffs would be eliminated, to the mutual benefit of U.S. and Panamanian firms and workers. Additionally, approval of this agreement would give U.S. companies an inside track to participating in the $5 billion Panama Canal Expansion Project."

The letter to Obama also had support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. The text of the letter follows:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama:

On June 28, 2007, the United States and Panama signed a comprehensive free trade agreement after two and a half years of negotiation. While this agreement was not formally presented to Congress and implemented in the 110th Congress, it is our hope that a finalized implementing bill can be introduced and passed by the 111th Congress as quickly as possible. We urge you to work with Congress to gain support for this agreement and look forward to working with you to achieve this goal.

The Panama Trade Promotion Agreement would allow 88 percent of U.S. exports to enter Panama duty free upon implementation. Within 17 years of approval, 100 percent of Panamanian tariffs would be eliminated, to the mutual benefit of U.S. and Panamanian firms and workers. Additionally, approval of this agreement would give U.S. companies an inside track to participating in the $5 billion Panama Canal expansion project. The expansion of the canal is one of the largest public infrastructure improvements in the world, and U.S. engineering, technology, and finance firms would be strong competitors to take on much of the work, while also sharing in long-term potential benefits.

While there have been some concerns with labor and environmental issues, Panama has proactively addressed these issues by adopting the five basic internationally recognized labor standards, as stated in the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration, and adopting strengthened commitments to environmental standards in the text of the agreement.

It is our hope that the Administration will work with Congress to assure expedient passage of the agreement. The United States and Panama have enjoyed a historic partnership and we look forward to working with you to ensure the completion of this agreement and the continued partnership between our two countries.

Sincerely,

BRIAN BILBRAY
Member of Congress

WALT MINNICK
Member of Congress

DAVE CAMP
Member of Congress

JIM MORAN
Member of Congress

ILLEANA ROS-LEHTINEN
Member of Congress

MICHAEL MCMAHON
Member of Congress

ROY BLUNT
Member of Congress

HENRY CUELLAR
Member of Congress

PAUL RYAN
Member of Congress

JARED POLIS
Member of Congress

SAM GRAVES
Member of Congress

DAVID DREIER
Member of Congress

DOC HASTINGS
Member of Congress

STEVE BUYER
Member of Congress

VERNON EHLERS
Member of Congress

KEVIN BRADY
Member of Congress

WALLY HERGER
Member of Congress

PATRICK TIBERI
Member of Congress

CONNIE MACK
Member of Congress

EDWARD ROYCE
Member of Congress

DAN BURTON
Member of Congress

DONALD MANZULLO
Member of Congress

TOM LATHAM
Member of Congress

SCOTT GARRETT
Member of Congress

JUDY BIGGERT
Member of Congress

JEFF FLAKE
Member of Congress

DOUG LAMBORN
Member of Congress

PETE SESSIONS
Member of Congress

DEVIN NUNES
Member of Congress

GEOFF DAVIS
Member of Congress

DAVID REICHERT
Member of Congress

CHARLES BOUSTANY
Member of Congress

DEAN HELLER
Member of Congress

SAM JOHNSON
Member of Congress

ERIK PAULSEN
Member of Congress

LEE TERRY
Member of Congress

JOSEPH PITTS
Member of Congress

AARON SCHOCK
Member of Congress

STEVE SCALISE
Member of Congress

PETER J. ROSKAM
Member of Congress

ERIC CANTOR
Member of Congress

JOHN A. BOEHNER
Republican Leader

GINNY BROWN-WAITE
Member of Congress

MIKE PENCE
Member of Congress

JOHN LINDER
Member of Congress


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