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Columbia Free Trade Agreement

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On April 7, 2008 President Bush signed a letter to congree implementing a free trade agreement with Colombia. The Bush administration has worked closely with Congree since 2006 to finalize this agreemnt. They have held more than 400 consultations, meetings and calls with congress. They have led trips to Colombia for more than 50 members of congress. Presdient Bush feels the need for this agreement is urgentand is asking congressto approve it as quickly as possible. One of the reasons for President Bush's urgency in getting the agreement passed is to boost a slowing economy.

As og now, any exports going to Colombia face tariffs of up to 35 percent for non-agricultural goods and much higher tariffs for many agriculutre products. Colombia is currently the second largest agriculutal market for the United States in Latin AMerica. United States exports of agricultural products to Colombia totaled $677 million dollars in 2005. Other goods exported to Colombia, such as machinery, organic material, chemicals, electrical and plastic totaled $5.4 billion in 2005. The free trade agreement would lift these tariffs. It would also remove barriers to goods and services and expand trade between the two countries. This agreement would open up the way for smaller companies and farmers to export their goods. Lifting the tariff would allow the revenue to stay in the United States. Goods that are exported from Colombia to the United States are tariff free. President Bush feels that our companies should have the same advantages as Colombian companies.

Even thought President Bush has shown how the free trade agreement would halp the economy, Comgress is still reluctant to adopt the agreement. Some members of congree have raised concerns about the conditions in Colombia. The Bush administrations has tried to address these concerns. The administration reminded congress that Colombia is one of our strangest allies in the Western Hemisphere. Colombia's leader, President Uribe has assured congress that he is working hard to fight drugs, crime and terror. His efforts seem to be working. Terrorist attacks, kidnappings, murder and violence against union workers have steadily beend declining since he took office. President Uribe has stood strong against the anti-American regime in Venezuela. He has established law and order and stood strong and courageous to bring deomocracy to Colombia. By not adopting the agreement the United States stand to lose a strong and brave ally. It would also send the message that the United States cannot be counted on to support its friends. Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is urging the United states not to turn its back on Colombia.

If I were a senator my first concenr would be for the people that had elected me. By voting for me, they had put their faith in me to do what was in tehir best interest. I would not vote for the agreemnt because I was a Republiican or vote against it because I was a Democrate. I would put politics aside and decide if this agreement would help or hurt the people



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