U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today welcomed the announcement that President Obama will end years of delay and send the long-pending Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea to Congress for approval. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"I'm very encouraged that the Obama Administration has finally decided to submit the Colombia, Panama, and South Korea Free Trade Agreements to Congress.
"These agreements will level the playing field for American businesses, including many in South Florida. The billions of dollars in increased sales that will result will enable these companies to create tens of thousands of jobs for hard-pressed Americans.
"These agreements are also of great importance to our national security interests in Latin America and East Asia. Their passage will demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the security, prosperity, and stability of these key U.S. allies.
"I strongly encourage my colleagues in the House and Senate to act quickly and approve these long overdue agreements."
BACKGROUND: The original U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement was signed by the Bush Administration in 2006 and those with Panama and South Korea in 2007. The Obama Administration insisted on renegotiating each. Until today's announcement, the Administration had repeatedly refused to forward the renegotiated texts to Congress for a vote.