After participating in the official transmittal ceremony of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement with President Bush today at the White House, American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) President and CEO Kurt Nagle announced the Association's full support of this important accord, noting that free and open trade is vital to the well-being of the United States and its ally countries. The agreement now goes to the U.S. Congress for consideration and approval before being adopted.
AAPA represents 160 of the leading public port authorities in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, all of which have a public mandate to facilitate waterborne commerce and contribute to local, regional and national economic development. Last September, AAPA's member seaports reaffirmed resolutions favoring policies which enhance rather than restrict free and open trade in the Western Hemisphere, citing free trade's significance for economic well-being and its contributions toward employment.
"This free and fair trade agreement with Colombia is an opportunity not only to expand the movement of goods and services between the U.S. and the second most populous country in South America, but it will also strengthen hemispheric ties and provide important economic benefits for U.S. exporters," said Mr. Nagle. He noted that, currently, more than 90 percent of Colombia's exports enter the United States duty free. However, American farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and workers face duties up to 35 percent when exporting their products to Colombia.
"Today, with our uncertain economy, U.S. exports are more important than ever," remarked Mr. Nagle. "Over 40 percent of America's economic growth last year was attributable to exports." He noted that, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, passage of this agreement would result in approximately a $1.1 billion annual increase in U.S. exports to Colombia due to tariff reductions.
"Ratification of this trade agreement is an important step toward achieving a Free Trade Area of the Americas," concluded Mr. Nagle, adding that the Colombia Free Trade Agreement would put Colombia on an equal footing with Chile, Peru and other Latin American trade partners, and make improvements in areas such as dispute resolution, labor relations, transparency mechanisms and regulations to combat corruption.