Friday, May 16, 2008

Granpa's Political Corner: Trade Agreements

I read an article in the news paper this morning "Colombia Trade Pact in Limbo". I was interested and had previously written to my representatives in Congress asking them to vote against this agreement.There has been a fair amount of effort recently as I understand Bush has been pushing Congress to pass the agreement. I understand Bush invoked the fast track authority Congress had previously granted to the presidency and gave Congress 90 days to accept or reject the already signed agreement, no changes allowed. Congress changed the rules and elected not to take up the agreement, effectively blocking any action.

I am told that under the Andean Trade Preference Act, already in place, that Colombia already has an advantage over the USA. It seems that more than 90 percent of Columbian products enter the USA duty-free and our exports to Columbia face tariffs up to 35 percent and even higher for some agricultural products.

I have not seen the proposed agreement but, like NAFTA, I will bet that there is a whole lot covered other than "free trade" agreements. Colombia already sends more than 90 percent of its products duty free. What else are we going to give them? "Free Trade" with Columbia seems pretty simple to me. We do not have tariffs on 90 percent of Columbia's exports to the USA, Columbia has import tariffs of 30 percent or more on products from the USA. If Columbia wants more imports from the USA why does it not remove the tariff barriers it now imposes? If Colombia refuses to reduce tariffs why don't we impose similar tariffs on Colombian goods? Isn't trade suposed to be a two way street?

I suspect the answer lies in the details of the proposed "free trade" agreement. The American people should demand that the details of any agreement should be made available to us before it is considered in Congress. Do you have any idea of the scope of things covered in the NAFTA agreement, other than "free trade"? We must demand representation from our elected officials.

Granpa Graham

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