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United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MATHESON. I thank the gentleman from Michigan for yielding me some time.

Madam Speaker, I find that sometimes when we talk about issues around here, we hear the same thing we've heard for years and years and years, and sometimes that's a good thing.

But sometimes it's also important to acknowledge that the world is changing. Things are happening. Globalization is a mixed bag, globalization creates opportunities, but it also creates a lot of challenges. As policymakers, what we need to do is look for where we can best position this country to compete in that changing environment.

I rise in support of all three of these agreements, and I will tell you what's going on compared to years ago. The rest of the world's moving on. The rest of the world is opening markets to each other, and U.S. products and U.S. opportunities are being limited by that phenomenon.

For example, in Colombia, 2008, the United States was responsible for 46 percent of all the goods coming into Colombia. But what happened after 2008? Well, Colombia entered into bilateral trade agreements with Argentina and with Brazil, and just 2 short years later, in 2010, the U.S. only had 20 percent of the products that were being shipped into Colombia. That's a pretty big drop. About 25 percent of all the materials coming into that country, the U.S. used to have that market and then we lost it.

We should seek out the fairest deals, the best deals for this country; but we should not be in denial for what's going on in the rest of the world. We should not be in denial about markets opening up elsewhere and the U.S. sitting on its hands and doing nothing.

Now, mind you, in the case of Colombia, in particular, it's already had an opportunity for markets in the U.S. due to the Caribbean Basin Initiative. Their goods have been coming here duty free for years. We have an opportunity now to level that playing field.

So I encourage my colleagues to recognize where we are in 2011 and the circumstances we are in and what other countries in the world are doing to respond to the opportunities presented by globalization and dealing with mitigating the problems. I encourage you to vote for all three of these trade agreements.

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