Senator John Ensign has joined with 43 of his Senate colleagues to demand that the Administration implement free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.
Letter to the Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader, United States Senate
S-221 Capital Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Leader Reid:
With nearly 14 million Americans out of work, we believe that helping American-based businesses create good paying private-sector jobs is among the most important things Congress can do right now. Opening up foreign markets to American-made goods is a low-cost step Congress can take to encourage job creation. For too long, however, the administration has delayed sending up legislation for free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. These agreements were negotiated and finalized more than three years ago. Through these agreements Colombia and Panama committed to opening their markets to U.S. exports and adopting rules of trade that will make it easier for U.S. workers to export to these markets. Concluding these agreements will provide new export opportunities for U.S. businesses and workers.
We are disappointed by the President's apparent lack of interest in seeking approval of these free trade agreements. The time for delay is over. Colombia and Panama are strong democratic allies in Latin America and both have undertaken serious and meaningful reforms, many of which directly address the concerns of those who want to further delay these agreements. Yet the administration continues to move the goalpost by withholding clear direction and not providing a specific timetable for implementation.
As a result of the administration's failure to act on these agreements, American companies and their workers are losing market share and are being denied valuable business opportunities. At the same time, Colombia and Panama are continuing to expand their trading partnerships elsewhere, signing bilateral free trade agreements with the European Union, Canada, and other countries which are eager to move into these large markets at the expense of U.S. workers.
Any further delay of these agreements is unnecessary and inexcusable. So important are these deals to our economy and our relations with these key allies in Latin America that, until the President submits both agreements to Congress for approval and commits to signing implementing legislation into law, we will use all the tools at our disposal to force action, including withholding support for any nominee for Commerce Secretary and any trade-related nominees.
We look forward to the opportunity to vote on and send these agreements to the President this year.