(House of Representatives - July 20, 2011)

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[Page H5245]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                       COLOMBIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Canseco) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. CANSECO. Mr. Speaker, there are many concerns on the minds of 
Americans today. But there's one concern that dominates discussion in 
every coffee shop, grocery store, barber shop, civic clubs or 
everywhere else that Americans gather, and that is the need to turn our 
economy around and create jobs.
  The American people are right to be concerned about the economy and 
jobs. We've had 29 straight months with the unemployment rate at 8 
percent or higher, the longest streak since the Great Depression. 
Fourteen million Americans are unemployed, and month after month the 
jobs reports show anemic job growth.

                              {time}  1040

  Over 2 years ago, the American people were told by President Obama 
and other Washington liberals that if we would just spend over $1 
trillion on the so-called ``stimulus'' bill, the unemployment rate 
would not exceed 8 percent. Well, in the entire Obama presidency there 
has only been one month--January of 2009--that the unemployment rate 
did not exceed 8 percent. Every month since the stimulus bill was 
signed into law in February of 2009 has seen unemployment rates at 8 
percent or higher.
  It is clear that the approach of attempting to spend and borrow our 
way to a better economy has not worked. That's why Congress needs to 
look to policies that will create jobs, like passing the three pending 
free trade agreements our Nation has with Colombia, Panama and South 
  Beyond the fact that the Business Roundtable estimates these 
agreements will create more than 250,000 jobs and are important for our 
economy, these agreements are also important to the United States' role 
in the world. There is no better illustration of this than the 
agreement we have pending with Colombia. Colombia is an important ally 
in Latin America, and I do say that today Colombians celebrate 
Colombian Independence Day. They're serving as an example for other 
nations and in stark contrast to the dictatorial regimes in Venezuela, 
Cuba and Bolivia. Colombia should not only enjoy a strategic 
relationship with the United States, we should also enjoy a strong 
commercial relationship. Passage of the free trade agreement would 
build upon the existing relationship and further strengthen it.
  Apart from being beneficial for an important ally, this agreement is 
important for the U.S. economy. Here are just a few of the benefits 
that will occur with passage of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement: 
Duty-free access to the Colombian market for more than 80 percent of 
U.S. consumer and industrial goods, exports, with remaining tariffs 
phased out in 10 years; immediate duty-free access to more than two-
thirds of current U.S. agricultural exports with the remaining tariffs 
phased out over time; strengthened intellectual property and investor 
protections; open services markets; and enhanced transparency in 
government procurement. However, perhaps the most important reason to 
pass this agreement is that if we don't, our competitors will.
  Our competitors worldwide are aggressively moving to pass trade 
agreements. We have already seen our market share in Colombia 
jeopardized. For instance, although Colombia has doubled its 
agricultural imports over the past 5 years, the U.S. has seen its 
market share shrink by one-half. In 2008, American farmers held a 46 
percent share of the Colombian market. Today, that share has diminished 
to 21 percent. In 2000, China was Colombia's 12th largest trading 
partner. Today, China is the second biggest trade partner for Colombia 
behind the United States.
  Failure to pass the free trade agreement will allow our competitors 
to enjoy an artificial advantage. At this point in our economy, why do 
we not want to do everything we can to keep the jobs we have and create 
new ones? We need to put the politics aside and recognize the 
importance of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, not only for our 
economy but for our strategic interests. It's time to pass the Colombia 
Free Trade Agreement.