(Extensions of Remarks - October 12, 2011)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1827-E1828]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                               speech of

                          HON. SPENCER BACHUS

                               of alabama

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, October 11, 2011

  Mr. BACHUS. Madam Speaker, the free trade agreement between the 
United States and Colombia means jobs. If you are looking for bright 
spots in the U.S. economy, our trading relationship with Colombia is 
one of them. Even though we have been operating under a handicap to 
competitors like Argentina because of higher tariffs and duties, 
American exports to Colombia have been growing. Our exports last year 
were worth $12.1 billion, up 26 percent, and the International Trade 
Commission estimates this agreement will increase exports by at least 
another $1.1 billion.
  Each of those exports supports jobs in the United States, not to 
mention jobs in the State of Alabama. Colombia is one of Alabama's best 
export markets in this hemisphere, and it is an excellent customer for 
high-value manufactured products like machinery and transportation 
equipment. Our former Governor Bob Riley demonstrated the importance of 
the partnership when he led a trade delegation to Colombia in 2009, and 
it is my view that this agreement will create even more opportunities 
for mutually beneficial trade.
  Colombia is a strategic ally committed to a free market economy. 
Working together, our governments have made progress in addressing the 
scourge of narcotics. The Colombian government has also instituted 
major labor reforms, and the labor provisions in this agreement reflect 
the government's commitment to protect those rights. For the record, I 
am submitting information I received from the Colombian Ambassador to 
the U.S. regarding the Action Plan on labor protections.
  The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will open up new avenues of 
cooperation between our two countries, and provide an immediate boost 
to our farmers, the textile industry, our energy industry, and our 
manufacturers to name just a few. It is a win-win agreement and I am 
pleased to support it.

                         Third Party Validators

        Colombia Has Achieved All of the Action Plan Milestones

       September 15 Milestones: ``Colombia continues to meet its 
     milestones for the action plan.''--Deputy USTR Miriam Sapiro, 
     September 23, 2011.
       June 15 Milestones: ``The Action Plan is designed to 
     significantly increase labor protections in Colombia, and we 
     are pleased

[[Page E1828]]

     that Colombia is meeting its commitments. We are eager to see 
     Congress move the Colombia trade agreement forward as soon as 
     possible (. . .).''--USTR Ron Kirk, June 13, 2011.
       April 22 Milestones: U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk 
     sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the 
     Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees 
     ``indicating that Colombia has taken the necessary steps, 
     consistent with the April 22 milestones outlined in the 
     Action Plan, to move to the next stage in the process.''--
     USTR Ron Kirk, May 4, 2011.

Colombia is on the Right Track: Promoting and Protecting the Rights of 
                Workers and the Respect to Human Rights

       ``On September 8, 2011, the Department of State determined 
     and certified to Congress that the Colombian Government is 
     meeting statutory criteria related to human rights.''--U.S. 
     State Department, September 15, 2011.
       The International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee that 
     has monitored Colombia since 1985, excluded Colombia in June 
     2010 and again this year from the list of countries that need 
     special monitoring.--ILO, June 2011.
       For the first time in more than a decade, Colombia has been 
     selected as a titular member of the ILO Governing Body for 
     the 2011-2014 term. Colombia was elected with 96 percent of 
     votes from the tripartite delegations of 182 countries around 
     the world.--ILO, June 2011.

      Colombian Government and Labor Unions: Working Hand In Hand

       An effective Three-Party Agreement was signed by the 
     Colombian Government, labor unions and employers to 
     strengthen democracy and advance the social dialogue on labor 
     issues. The Agreement, which was originally signed in June 
     2006, was updated in May 2011 to reaffirm all three parties' 
     commitment to reestablishing a social dialogue to generate 
     solutions on labor-related issues and address conflicts and 
     differences.--May 2011.
       The Colombian Government and Colombian Federation of 
     Educators--Fecode, which represents 250,000 educators--signed 
     an historic agreement on May 4, 2011 that will improve 
     working conditions and the quality of life for the nation's 
     educators. ``We achieved very important points and discussed 
     important topics such as the teachers' status. As teachers, 
     we have welcomed this agreement.''--Senen Nino, President of 
     Fecode. June 15, 2011.

 Trade Unions and NGO Express Support for Action Plan and Progressive 

       On the Progressive Agenda: ``The General Labor 
     Confederation (CGT) salutes the achievements of the 
     Administration of President Juan Manuel Santos during his 
     first year in office. The Administration has enacted a series 
     of policies of enormous value to workers and all 
     Colombians.''--CGT, August 11, 2011.
       On the Progressive Agenda: ``The agenda that is being 
     constructed at this moment is the result of a constant battle 
     and the work of the Colombian union movement with the support 
     of international unions. The measures contained in the 
     agreement signed by Presidents Santos and Obama last week, 
     the recommendations of the High Level Mission of the OIT that 
     visited us in February, and President Santos' programs on 
     labor are all measures that the union movement has advocated 
     for years.''--Luciano Sanin, Director of the National Union 
     School (ENS), April 2011.
       On the Action Plan: ``It is a step in the right direction 
     that the President (Santos) deepened the agreement so that 
     the topics of union liberty, human rights and guarantees for 
     workers are included in the FTA.''--Julio Roberto Gomez, 
     General Secretary of the CGT, April 8, 2011.

     A View from Outside: ``Colombia's Progress Deserves Support''

       ``The best way to encourage Mr. Santos to take further 
     steps to end impunity and protect activists, political 
     candidates and indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities is 
     to approve the FTA.'' (. . .) ``Democrats should join in 
     ratifying the Colombia pact, and they should credit progress 
     on human rights.''--Mark Schneider, Senior Vice President, 
     International Crisis Group and Former Principal Deputy 
     Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, September 18, 
       ``We commend President Juan Manuel Santos's commitment to 
     compensate the victims of violence and return confiscated 
     land to poor farmers. And we applaud efforts to reduce 
     homicides of union members, which Colombia reports have 
     declined by nearly 90% since 2002. These are significant 
     steps. The FTA will further Colombia's progress by providing 
     clear protections for fundamental labor rights.''--Sens. John 
     Kerry (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT), Wall Street Journal Op-
     ed, April 4, 2011.
       ``A Gain for Workers.'' In an article on labor 
     cooperatives, Revista Semana highlighted that the new decree 
     that tackles illegal forms of labor intermediation ``is very 
     good news for the working class (. . .) 300,000 jobs will be 
     formalized (. . .) several companies are already adjusting to 
     the new standard. Carrefour added 600 employees to its 
     payroll, representing additional annual costs of about 5,000 
     million pesos (US$2.5 million). Exito has hired 2,500 
     packers, as part of a plan that includes the direct hiring of 
     6,250 employees this year. This will cost Exito about 70,000 
     million pesos per year (US$35 millon).''--Revista Semana, 
     June 18, 2011. The Colombian news weekly Revista Semana was 
     awarded in 2009 by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) 
     with the Charles A. Perlik, Jr. Award for Excellence in the 
     Field of Print Journalism throughout the hemisphere.