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.