David Rivera Threatens to Hold Up South Korea Free Trade if Colombia and Panama Agreements Stall
On Tuesday, Florida Republican U.S. Rep. David Rivera raised the stakes on Capitol Hill, saying he will help block a free-trade agreement with South Korea if similar agreements with Colombia and Panama continue to stall.
“I made it clear to Assistant Secretary of State Valenzuela that there would be an effort to defeat the South Korea Free Trade Agreement if there was not similar progress on Colombia and Panama,” Rivera said on Tuesday. “The Obama administration is calling for quick passage of the free-trade agreement with South Korea while ignoring long-pending agreements with Colombia and Panama.
“President Obama was right last year when he said in his State of the Union address that ‘if America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores.’ However, the White House’s recent push to separate the South Korea Free Trade Agreement from the other two agreements ignores the hugely positive impact that free trade with Colombia and Panama would have on the American economy,” continued Rivera. “Colombia is one of our best allies in Latin America and the oldest functioning democracy in the region. Passing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement would eliminate trade barriers and immediately boost U.S. exports to Colombia. U.S. GDP would increase by roughly $2.5 billion and exports by over a billion, creating thousands of jobs in the United States.
“As with Colombia, the United States is Panama’s largest trading partner. In 2008, the U.S. had a trade surplus with Panama totaling $4.3 billion, the eighth-largest surplus maintained with any U.S. global trading partner. Panama is also in a strategic global position that is a natural crossroads for commerce, especially between the United States, other Latin American countries and Asia,” added Rivera. “The United States, the world’s largest economy, should not be falling behind when it comes to trade. The time has come to approve all three free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea; not to further delay approval by breaking them up. The position of the House of Representatives should be clear: the free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea must be a package deal.”