Latin America Archives

CONSTIPATED COLOMBIA PACT AND THE MISSING MASSACRE

By Michael Fumento

Pres. Obama has made expanding U.S. exports a centerpiece of his economic plan. In his January State of the Union Address, he noted that "95% of the world's customers and fastest-growing markets are beyond our borders" and that export-related jobs "pay 15% more than average." At a time when jobs are in short supply, he later said, "building exports is an imperative."

So naturally, he's done everything possible to ease passage of the Colombia Free Trade Pact, which the Bush Administration negotiated and the then-Democrat controlled Congress battled up. Right? Wrong.

As I write-in Investor's Business Daily, the pact is lopsided towards the U.S. in that Colombia's exports to us are already tariff-free, while our products sent there carry duties of up to 25% - an estimated $3.2 billion total since the agreement was reached.

Those tariffs would disappear and, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, expand opportunities for a broad array of U.S. sectors, increase our gross domestic product by about $2.5 billion, lower our massive trade deficit and create J-O-B-S.

That's also where export markets are opening up. Economic performance confidence levels are higher in Latin America than in any other part of the world. That's why other nations are busily entering trade agreements with Colombia, including the entire European Union.

Yet in December Obama refused to even send the Pact to Congress. I absolutely will not speculate as to why.

Not at all.

Nothing.

Not a hint.

Well, except that Big Labor doesn't like the Pact because it means competition for them. And Big Labor donates Big Money to political campaigns, with 90% going to the Dems.

But, of course, the Dems can't say that. So they say they're worried about protecting the rights - indeed the lives - of Colombian labor union members. Except that the percentage of such members reported killed last year was vastly below Colombia's overall homicide rate - not to mention a fraction of that of New Orleans.

But, under tremendous GOP pressure, it looks like Obama is finally sending the Pact to Congress - who, we should hope, has the wisdom to force the President to accept his own rhetoric.

April 9, 2011 01:37 PM  ·  Permalink

"Unions' Big Colombia Lie," my NYPost piece on Colombia Free Trade Agreement

By Michael Fumento

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put the US - Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement on the back burner - apparently permanently. "The Colombia FTA is dead on arrival," explained Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), co-founder of the House Trade Working Group. "Congress can't take up an agreement with Colombia until the horrific violence and labor-rights record are addressed."

So it's not sheer protectionism that drives the Democrats and Big Labor, as the deal's supporters claim. It's "horrific violence," especially against unions. John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, claims, "In Colombia, joining a union or advocating for workers' rights can be a de facto death sentence."

BS.

Last year's overall murder rate was down 40 percent since 2002, while deaths among Colombia's union members plummeted even farther - a drop of 86 percent in a decade. Further, the murder rate for union members is about an eighth that of the population at large. Sadly, it's the pact that has effectively been killed. Read more here.

April 29, 2008 11:08 PM  ·  Permalink