October 2, 2011- Op-eds - Balanced Trade Would Fuel U.S. Jobs

Similarly, the trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, along with strengthened Trade Adjustment Assistance, would help create and preserve U.S. jobs. All of these measures are critical elements of the Obama administration’s balanced approach to trade that grows American exports abroad and supports American jobs here at home. Together, these agreements are estimated to increase U.S. gross domestic product by $12 billion and support tens of thousands of additional American jobs.

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September 30, 2011- News Clips - The Last Push Is On for Three Free-Trade Agreements

House Speaker John Boehner has said he will take up the TAA worker-training bill at the same time as the three trade treaties. Once the free-trade accords are introduced, Congress has 90 working days to approve the agreements on a yes-or-no vote. No amendments or adjustments can be made.

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The agriculture community is focusing on the three free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that have been pending for over four years.  Passage of these three agreements is important to agriculture in general, and according to National Corn Growers Association Director of Public Policy Sarah Gallo, the nation's corn producers in particular.

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September 29, 2011- News Clips - Latin American Ambassadors Tout Houston Trade

Latin American dignitaries stopped by the Greater Houston Partnership  this company this week to emphasize the importance of free-trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, and I sat in while they made their pitch about why they think these agreements are necessary. Passing these agreements would add $13 billion to the U.S. economy and create about 70,000 jobs, said P. Michael McKinley, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia. Exports to Latin America, McKinley said, are a fundamental part of that job creation and economic boost, he said.

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President Barack Obama may send free- trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to Congress for consideration as soon as today, according to a person familiar with the administration’s plans…. A second person, a Colombian government official who said he has been briefed on the plans, said he expected Obama to act on the accords today or tomorrow. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the announcement.

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September 29, 2011- News Clips - Struggle over FTAs Continues

The U.S. House of Representatives could soon take up a bill key to freeing up the three stalled free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Those deals are worth billions in new sales for U.S. agriculture. American Farm Bureau trade adviser Chris Garza says the House GOP and White House are still trying to come to terms on a plan to move the trade deals and provide help for trade-displaced workers through Trade Adjustment Assistance.

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A new JP Morgan survey named Colombia as the second most promising country in Latin America for investment over the next three years, but determined that it will need to improve its investor relations before it can meet these expectations. In a survey of 40 institutional North American and European investors, participants’ optimism towards Colombian investment opportunities was second only to Brazil. Nearly 40% of surveyed investors pointed to the Colombian market as highly promising, largely because its economy is emerging.

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September 28, 2011- Editorials - Move Trade Deals for Ky.'s Benefit

Republicans in Congress and President Barack Obama want to spur economic growth by signing three free-trade agreements this year. In Kentucky, makers of autos, bourbon and chemicals — as well as the state's farmers — stand to gain from the lowering of barriers to U.S. exports.

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If there is one thing politicians can agree on, it is that America’s current economic and job situation is downright bad, and we need to do something immediately to begin fixing it. Ratifying the stalled free trade agreements (FTA) with Panama, Colombia and South Korea is one sure-fire way to give this economy the boost it needs without a taxpayer-funded stimulus.

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Panama and Colombia are growing trading partners in Latin America, and the United States puts itself at a disadvantage when other nations engage in free trade and the U.S. doesn’t. Brady said if the United States wants to maintain its status as an economic world leader, it must keep up with the pace of other nations and expand its participation in the world market.

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John McMillan, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, is calling on President Obama to send free -trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to Congress for approval…. "To get these jobs, Obama has to send these agreements to Congress and they've got to approve them," McMillan said. The chances for the approval of the pacts did improve last week, with some developments in Congress, he said.

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September 25, 2011- Op-eds - Port Plays Key Role in Boosting Trade

We applaud our Broward County Commission and U.S. legislators who have let the Obama administration know that they support pending free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Passage of these free-trade agreements will strengthen our Port's commerce in these trade regions and position us to benefit from increased Transpacific trade projected with the expansion of the Panama Canal.

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Washington has been doing much the same with pending trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. While the many supporters of these trade deals have been battling and bickering, America’s international competitors have been running up the score – and America’s companies and workers are losing out.

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September 23, 2011- Op-eds - Free Trade: Job Creation Made Cheap

It’s as simple as Congress passing the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.  By opening up these three markets, companies both large and small will be able to compete in an expanded marketplace, with millions of new consumers for their products.  In fact, one in three manufacturing jobs depends on exports, and one in three acres on American farms is planted for hungry consumers overseas.  These trade agreements will allow the 97% of the quarter million small and mid-sized firms that are already exporting to further grow their exports, leading to increased profits and hiring.

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Agriculture exports are critical to farmers and are essential to the prosperity of the overall U.S. economy. Free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama have been stalled for several years, causing major trading opportunities to diminish. Economic analysis, performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, estimates that annual direct U.S. agricultural exports to South Korea, Colombia and Panama will increase by nearly $2.5 billion upon full implementation, whichwill create approximately 22,000 U.S. jobs.

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The CEOs of more than 30 major companies — including Michigan-based Ford Motor Co., Dow Chemical Co., Whirlpool Corp. and Amway Corp. — on Friday urged Congress to quickly approve pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia…."The pending trade agreements will level the playing field by giving American companies like ours and our workers enhanced and preferential access to these key growing markets in Latin America and Asia," they wrote.

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Many Colombians are arriving at the same conclusion. According to government figures, Colombian builders sold 152,000 new houses and condos last year, up 30% from 2009. Through July of this year, new unit sales nationwide were up 19% over the same seven months last year…. The region's commodities boom will push Latin America's economies to grow at roughly triple the U.S. rate this year. The ripple effects of booming sales of copper, iron ore, coffee, oil and soybeans are lifting not just the housing market, but also auto sales, foreign travel and purchases of computers and other durable goods.

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Alabama has a significant stake in increased trade with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, as there is strong demand for our agricultural and forestry products among these three nations….When you consider that economic impact analyses are on record as saying 350,000 new American jobs will result from passage of the agreements, this should be a no-brainer for Obama.

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Pennsylvania companies exported more than $1 billion in products to South Korea, Colombia and Panama in 2009. Currently, most products from these three countries enter our ports duty free, while American products headed there face restrictive import taxes upon arrival. By ratifying free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, we could eliminate virtually all of those countries' import taxes on U.S. goods immediately, as well as end other regulatory, licensing and government-imposed barriers to trade and exports.

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September 23, 2011- Op-eds - Time for Teamwork on Trade

Washington has been doing much the same with pending trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. While the many supporters of these trade deals have been battling and bickering, America’s international competitors have been running up the score – and America’s companies and workers are losing out.

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Following a high-level review led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro, the Obama administration last week announced that Colombia has fully complied with its commitments under the labor action plan that were due in July and mid-September. "Colombia continues to meet its milestones for the action plan," a USTR spokeswoman said in a Sept. 15 e-mail. The labor action plan serves as a basis for advancing the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement. Sapiro met with senior Colombian officials on Sept. 12 and 13 to fulfill the labor action plan's requirement that U.S. and Colombia officials meet every two months at the technical level and once at the senior level before the end of 2011 to review the plan's implementation. Attending the meeting were Colombian Ambassador Gabriel Silva, Vice Minister of Labor Javier Parga, and presidential adviser Catalina Crane, according to USTR.

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“We await the president’s submission of the three trade agreements sitting on his desk so the House can consider them in tandem” with the aid and preference programs, Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said in a statement yesterday. “If the president submits these agreements promptly, I’m confident that all four bills can be signed into law by mid-October.”

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The European Commission has approved the European Union's free trade agreement with Colombia and Peru, international media reported. The agreement will now be passed to the European Council and Parliament for final ratification. "I can confirm that the FTA with Colombia and Peru has been approved by the college of commissioners," a source told Spanish news agency EFE. The adoption of a proposal by the college of commissioners signals the end of the first of three stages of being passed into E.U. Law.

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Colombia’s economy expanded at the second-fastest pace in three years in the second quarter, led by mining, commerce, and transportation. Gross domestic product rose 5.2 percent in quarter from a year earlier and 2.1 percent from the January-through-March period, the statistics agency said today. Growth matched the median estimate of 27 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The agency revised year-on-year GDP for the fourth quarter of 2010 to 5.4 percent from 4.8 percent and to 4.7 percent from 5.1 percent for the first quarter of 2011.

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There has been some movement in the senate giving reason to believe that the FTAs with Colombia, South Korea and Panama could be passed soon, but in the meantime Colombia Ambassador Gabriel Silva says the delays have no doubt hurt US Agriculture.

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September 20, 2011- News Clips - Ag Leaders Call for Trade Agreements

John McMillan, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries today called on President Barack Obama and Congress to approve free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The agreements, which would reduce or eliminate tariffs, import quotas, and preferences on goods, represent millions of dollars for the state’s ag industry, McMillan and others said.

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September 20, 2011- News Clips - McConnell: FTAs to be Submitted Soon

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Tuesday he expects free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to be submitted to Congress soon, as debate got underway on a tariff bill that could pave the way for passage of the long-delayed trade pacts. The top Senate Republican urged President Barack Obama to quickly send up the trade deals, but said Congress should also renew fast-track authority allow the president to pursue more trade pacts.

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September 23, 2011- Trade HTMLs - Leading CEOs and Textile Organizations See FTAs as Job-Creating Agreements
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When you realize 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders, it is clear that international trade is vital to a vibrant U.S. economy. Trade supports American jobs. Agricultural exports alone supported about 1.1 million American jobs last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s farmers, ranchers, truckers, exporters and more.

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The Senate is scheduled to vote today on renewing benefits for workers who lose their jobs to foreign competition, a step that would open the way for President Barack Obama to submit three free-trade agreements. Lawmakers plan to consider a scaled-back version of Trade Adjustment Assistance negotiated by Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and Representative Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican as an amendment to a bill renewing tariff preferences for developing nations.

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