U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today praised House passage of long-pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) between the United States and Colombia, Panama, and South Korea:
"Today's House approval of three important Free Trade Agreements with our allies Colombia, Panama, and South Korea will create jobs here in the U.S., expand economic opportunities in these countries for U.S. businesses, and strengthen our partnerships with each of these nations.
"These agreements will put businesses across the U.S. on a level playing field with competitors in these countries. These FTAs will help drive exports, increase profits, and enable American companies to expand and hire new workers.
"The benefits from these agreements are not only economic. Each is with a critical U.S. ally in a region of the world where American strategic interests are facing increasing challenges.
"Colombia has served as a strong ally in the region to combat violent extremists and drug trafficking. This week's events illustrate the importance of partnering with responsible allies in the Western Hemisphere to counter these threats to regional stability and U.S. national security. With China expanding its commercial and diplomatic ties with anti-American regimes in the region such as Venezuela, U.S. alliances with stable democracies in the region such as Colombia and Panama are even more critical.
"Similarly, China's aggressive policies in the Pacific make our alliance with South Korea as important as ever.
"By strengthening our partnerships with three strong allies, these Free Trade Agreements demonstrate our long-term commitment to defending our shared values, priorities, and interests in the Pacific and in the Western Hemisphere."