Sitio oficial

TLC impulsará la economía de Estados Unidos

Por: Carlos Gutiérrez,
Secretario de Comercio de los Estados Unidos.
Publicado en el diario The Philadelphia Inquierer
Octubre 29 de 2007

Free-trade deals offer a boost to the U.S. economy
Congress has a chance to help increase exports to four countries.

By Carlos M. Gutierrez

Better jobs for Americans. Growing exports. A stronger economy. A full 40 percent of our economic growth in the last year has been led by exports. With these results, we should seize every chance we have to increase U.S. export opportunities. Fortunately, Congress has an unprecedented chance to do just that by approving free-trade agreements (FTAs) with Peru, Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

These FTAs will create new export opportunities for farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers from Pennsylvania and around the country, and help sustain our country’s export-fueled growth.

Last year, exports grew 12.7 percent to a record $1.4 trillion. Pennsylvania already is riding the crest of that growth with export shipments of merchandise totaling $26 billion in 2006 – up a tremendous 60 percent from 2003. And 2006 showed big gains for the Port of Philadelphia, with more than 5 million metric tons of cargo handled last year, 20 percent more than 2005. The best way to keep this trend going is to open new markets. We do that by enacting and implementing free-trade agreements.

These agreements simply make sense. Currently, more than 90 percent of the goods imported from Peru, Colombia and Panama come here duty-free under trade-preference programs Congress passed to help developing countries.

These agreements would make the bulk of our exports to these countries also duty-free. This would be great news for U.S. exporters, who would have a chance to compete on a level playing field in three growing countries with a combined market of 78 million consumers. Think about it: Pennsylvania exporters are facing discriminating taxes and losing out. We finally have a chance to compete fairly and boost Pennsylvania exports.

Importantly, these agreements also would strengthen the rule of law and help democratic governance take hold. Nowhere is this more evident than in Colombia, one of our staunchest allies in the Western Hemisphere. Few countries have paid a higher price because of terrorism than Colombia, and few have shown as much bravery standing up to guerrillas and narcotics traffickers as Colombians. The streets of Medellin have been transformed from a drug lord’s paradise to a community where families and children can thrive.

Under a democratically elected president, Colombia has experienced real change. Between 2002 and 2006, violent crime and terrorism dropped by nearly half and violence against labor leaders decreased about 70 percent. And between 2000 and last year, 25 percent of Colombians who were in poverty were lifted out. To deny Colombia this trade agreement would be a huge foreign-policy blunder.

We must keep in mind that our democratic ideals of liberty and freedom are n0t the only system being promoted in the world today. While we seek empowerment of the individual, others seek to suppress people, ideas and debate. While we encourage the free flow of investment and business, others seek to stifle free enterprise.

South Korea borders a country led by a vision far different from our own. South Korea, a nation of 48 million increasingly prosperous consumers, would at last be as open to the U.S goods and services as this nation has been to South Korean goods and services. A free-trade agreement with South Korea would remove virtually all developing-economy protections. Within the first three years after implementation, 95 percent of consumer and industrial products would become duty-free and the remaining tariffs would be eliminated within 10 years.

This agreement would allow us to modernize our long-standing alliance and strengthen our engagement with a key ally in a strategically important part of the world.

The four agreements would bring enhanced access for Pennsylvania’s farmers, workers and businesses and increase trade through Philadelphia’s port. Pennsylvania exported nearly $800 million to these four countries last year, up nearly 90 percent since 2003. Through trade we will continue to build prosperity – not just for Philadelphia or Pennsylvania, but for the nation.

The Bush administration wants to work with congressional leaders on a bipartisan basis to find a way forward on free trade. While we are pleased Congress has taken up the Peru agreement, it is critical that all four are approved.

These agreements are simply in our country’s best security and economic interest, and for that, President Bush and his administration will be relentless advocates. Now is the time to act, and now is the time for voices of those who care about U.S. exports and U.S. competitiveness to be heard.

Algunos apartes, en español, del comentario editorial

El Congreso tiene la oportunidad de ayudar a aumentar las exportaciones a cuatro países.

Mejores puestos de trabajo para los estadounidenses. Aumento de las exportaciones. Una economía más fuerte. Un 40 por ciento de nuestro crecimiento económico en el último año ha sido provocado por las exportaciones.

Con estos resultados debemos aprovechar cada oportunidad que se nos ofrece a Estados Unidos para aumentar las oportunidades de exportación.

Afortunadamente, el Congreso tiene una oportunidad, sin precedentes, de hacer eso con la aprobación de acuerdos de libre comercio con Perú, Colombia, Panamá y Corea del Sur.

Estos acuerdos de libre comercio crearán nuevas oportunidades de exportación para los agricultores, los ganaderos, los fabricantes y los proveedores de servicios de Pennsylvania y de todo el país, y ayudarán a mantener el crecimiento de la exportación de combustible en nuestro país.

Es importante señalar que, estos acuerdos también fortalecen el Estado de derecho y contribuyen a afianzar la gobernabilidad democrática. En ningún lugar esto es más evidente que en Colombia, uno de nuestros más firmes aliados en el Hemisferio Occidental.

Pocos países han pagado un alto precio por causa del terrorismo como lo ha hecho Colombia, y pocos han demostrado tanta valentía contra la guerrilla y los traficantes de estupefacientes, como los colombianos. Las calles de Medellín se han transformado del paraíso de los señores de las drogas, a una comunidad donde las familias y los niños puedan crecer.

En virtud de un presidente elegido democráticamente, Colombia ha experimentado un cambio real. Entre 2002 y 2006 los delitos violentos y el terrorismo se redujeron casi a la mitad, y la violencia contra los líderes sindicales disminuyó alrededor de 70 por ciento.

Y entre 2000 y el año pasado, 25 por ciento de los colombianos que estaban en la pobreza pudieron salir de ella. Negar a Colombia este acuerdo comercial sería un enorme error de política exterior.