For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 12, 2007
Fact Sheet: Latin American and Korean Free Trade Agreements Vital to U.S. Economy and Security
President Bush Urges Congress To Pass Pending Free Trade Agreements With Peru, Colombia, Panama, And South Korea
In Focus: International Trade
President Bush Discusses Free Trade Agreements
Today, President Bush addressed the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and call on Congress to pass pending free trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama, and South Korea as quickly as possible. These agreements will level the playing field for workers, farmers, and businesses here in America. The President's remarks focus on how the three free trade agreements with Latin American countries will help lift their people out of poverty, and will strengthen the forces of freedom and democracy in the Western hemisphere.
Peru has one of the fastest growing economies in South America. Last year, Peru's economy expanded by eight percent. Trade between the United States and Peru has more than doubled over the past three years.
The Peru free trade agreement would immediately eliminate most industrial tariffs, as well as many of its barriers to U.S. agricultural exports. Elimination of these tariffs would also provide new market access and fair treatment to U.S. companies that provide services and invest in Peru.
The free trade agreement would also strengthen our friendship with an important South American democracy. Last year, Peru held two rounds of free and fair elections, and through their representatives, the Peruvian people have made clear that they want to increase their ties to the United States. Congress should show America's commitment in return by voting on and approving the Peru free trade agreement.
Colombia is our fifth largest trading partner in Latin America. Colombia's economy is strong and growing with a 6.8 percent expansion last year, and they are the largest market for U.S. agriculture exports in South America.
The Colombia free trade agreement would immediately eliminate tariffs on more than 80 percent of American industrial and consumer exports, and it would provide significant new duty-free access for American crops. About 8,000 U.S. companies that export to Colombia would find new buyers, and would be able to compete in Colombia on a level playing field for the first time in history.
For the sake of America's economy and security, Congress should pass the vital free trade agreement with Colombia this year. Both houses of the Colombian legislature have expressed overwhelming support for the trade agreement with the United States. Now they are waiting to see if we will hold up our end of the deal.
In 2006, Panama and the U.S. exchanged almost $3 billion worth of goods nearly 50 percent more than just four years ago. Panama has one of the fastest-growing economies in Central America, with a growth rate of more than eight percent last year.
The Panama free trade agreement will build on this vibrant trade relationship, eliminating tariffs on 88 percent of our industrial and consumer goods exports to Panama. It would be especially beneficial for American farmers and ranchers, and create opportunities for American businesses to participate in the Panama Canal expansion project. It will also provide new market access for U.S. service suppliers, including in Panamas key financial services sector.
The U.S.-Korea free trade agreement (KORUS FTA) is the most commercially significant bilateral free trade agreement the United States has concluded in over 15 years. Korea is the 11th largest economy in the world, with an annual GDP of nearly $1 trillion. The KORUS FTA will open a growing market of 49 million consumers to the full range of U.S. goods and services, from autos to telecommunications services. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates the reduction of Korean tariffs on goods alone would likely add roughly $10-12 billion to annual U.S. GDP.
The KORUS FTA will eliminate tariffs on 94 percent of trade in industrial goods within three years, and more than half of U.S. agriculture exports to Korea will become duty free immediately. The free trade agreement will also address a range of non-tariff barriers, and increase transparency in Korea's regulatory processes. The agreement will strengthen Koreas economic reforms that have helped it become a prosperous economy and vibrant democracy and sustain the growth of trade and investment opportunities for the mutual benefit of both countries.
The agreement will strengthen the United State's competitive position in the rapidly transforming Asian market and cement ties with a vital regional ally. The U.S.-Korean alliance was forged in war more than a half century ago. The KORUS FTA will energize that alliance with shared prosperity.
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