Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Colombia/USA trade agreement

After reading THIS ARTICLE from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs on the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and the USA in The Panama News, I am more convinced than ever that it is in both country's interests to get a trade deal done. I have commented in earlier blogs that there is no such thing as a REAL free trade agreement as all modern day agreements contain too many caveats and line items to truly be called "free" trade. That being the case, I still overall prefer some level of trade between countries as an alternative to gun running and military interventions. Countries that don't trade together usually end up fighting each other or at least supporting opposite sides in conflicts. The quickest way to peace and prosperity is fair and equitable trade between countries.

As this article points out, the USA is at a place economically like no other time before where they need to export and sell goods and services. That seems the only out for all the debt the USA has in its system, from governmental to corporate to personal. Therefore it is expedient that the country's representatives push forward as many trade agreements as possible. Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia have all ratified agreements brokered over 2-4 years ago which STILL have not been passed by the USA Congress. This is a travesty of politicizing these trade agreements based on special interests in the USA. Most of the representatives holding up this legislation are about protectionism of USA jobs and markets...which is the LAST thing the USA needs to get themselves out of the debt spiral. I would encourage every reasoning citizen who understands this to contact their representatives in government and tell them to quit politicizing our economic relationships. Just the Colombia agreement alone could bring a swing in our international balance sheets of between 4-5 Billion per year. Instead of GIVING Colombia $3 Billion per year to fight the unwinnable war on drugs, the USA could receive $1-2 Billion in payments for goods that are otherwise going to other countries such as China, Korea, Russia, etc. Then let Colombia pay its own way into controlling drugs and improving its regular economy. Again, the military option is not working and controlled, balanced trade is a much better answer to market other products and opportunities for the people of Colombia...and elsewhere.

While in the USA these past weeks, my Colombian wife and I caught President Uribe's speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center on CSpan after his recent meeting with President Obama. Fortunately CSpan has provided a online video of that session HERE and is the best source from the "horses mouth" of what is at stake in USA/Colombia relations internationally. My basic summary of his viewpoint was that during his administration Colombia has seen huge improvements on their control of terrorism, the FARC, drug irradiation, and even reduction in violence against unionists that seems to be the main criticism from US congressmen who have held up ratifying the trade agreement. He rightly pointed out that Colombia has been the longest and closest friend politically to the USA in all of South America. It also represents the 2nd largest economy and GNP growth in South America after Brazil. For the USA to get snitty or high and mighty over their affairs at this time is just pure gibberish and wanton when more than ever the USA needs trade and friends in Latin America.

From what I read, it seems Obama is supportive of getting these trade agreements ratified, yet it is mainly congressmen of his own party who are holding things up. Meanwhile, from my closeup view in this region having lived in Panama for 4 years and numerous visits to Colombia, the USA stands to gain or lose a lot in both of these countries if they do not open up trade. There are plenty of other trading partners standing in the wings or actively trading with these countries. It is my contention that if the USA loses the trading wars during the current globalization of markets, they will lose every other aspect of conflict or influence throughout the world over time. If the USA loses its economic prowess, it loses everything and will quickly be overrun by other ideologies such as Islam, Secularism and find itself more and more under autocratic rule. That's not the America I grew up in nor wish to see.


sonia bibiana said...

Gracias Ed, por escribir un blog acerca de mi pais.

Estoy de acuerdo con que el congreso de USA, apruebe pronto el TLC, con Colombia, este ha tomado muchisimo tiempo, tiempo valioso perdido para las dos naciones.

Colombia es el unico aliado seguro para USA, con un presidente electo democraticamente, el Presidente Uribe, cuenta con cerca de un 70% de aprobacion dentro de la sociedad Colombiana, es un presidente querido, admirado, repetado, elogiado.

Pero tambien muy envidiado por muchos otros, incluidos presidentes extranjeros,igualmente los terroristas de las Farc, que son los verdaderos enemigos de Colombia y sus ciudadanos, asesinos inmisericordes, duenos del control, exportacion y cultivo de la coca y otras drogas en Colombia ademas de violentos secuestradores. A los cuales el presidente Uribe, el Ejercito Nacional de Colombia y la Policia Nacional de Colombia han dado durisimos golpes, ejemplo entre muchos otros, la operacion Jaque, que libero a los tres estadounidenses secuestrados por las Farc, junto con oficiales del ejercito y personajes politicos como la senora Betancourt.

Estados Unidos debe enfocarse en aspectos positivos como, la lucha antidrogas, antiterrorismo que el presidente Uribe ha liderado desde el comienzo de primer periodo presidencial, los cuales han demostrado exitosos triunfos, como la de devolvernos la libertad a los Colombianos, permitirnos volver al pais, disfrutar de su belleza, viajar por carreteras, no sentir miedo, sentir orgullo de ser Colombiano, amar nuestra tierra y querer volver a ella. Crecimiento importante a nivel industria, la economia del pais es una de las mejores en latinoamerica y de las que mejor esta soportanto esta crisis mundial.

Todo esto gracias al trabajo duro y continuo del presidente Uribe.

Sin desconocer claro la ayuda economica y ligistica militar, que USA y algunos paises europeos nos ha prestado.

Por eso pienso que USA, debe recompenzar a Colombia a los colombianos y a nuestro presidente Uribe con la aprobacion pronta de este TLC, que daria mas mano de obra y trabajo para los colombianos de bien.

Toda esta mala prensa que se a organizado en contra de Colombia, el honorable Presidente Uribe, su gobierno y nuestras Fuerzas Armadas Colombianas, son un teatro armado por los enemigos del pais y de su progreso.

Somos un pais de gente fuerte y valiosa, que a pesar de tanta guerra y sufrimiento, el pais sigue creciendo para mejorar y sigue mejorando.

A todos los que lean este blog y mi comentario del mismo, los invito a que visiten mi hermoso pais Colombia y conozcan mi gente linda y emprendedora.


Timothy said...

Hey Ed,

Free trade is pretty much the only economic issue that I am to the right on. I agree with you that modern Free Trade agreements are pretty farcical. The FTA between Australia and the US had so many protectionist passages on the American side (From memory alot of it had to do with Australian meat/crops taking business away from American farmers) it was a joke.

When setting up FTAs with poor developing countries it requires a bit of sensitivity. If it removes regulation from foreign investment which is used to protect the developing nation from being gobbled up by corporations, it really isn't in the interests of the poor country (although will be in the interests of the Government because it wants to see tax revenues increase from the corporations). Developed nations are usually strong enough to handle any outsourcing of jobs that comes as a result of free trade. Take Australia for example, it used to have a large manufacturing sector. When the Labor party started to reduce tariffs on manufactured goods, imports from Asia reduced alot of these Australian companies to ruin. In the long run the economy adjusted, though, with a blooming services sector. As they say, free trade can lead to "creative destruction."

Your explanation of the situation in Colombia was interesting.