NPES Urges Approval of Free Trade Agreements when Congress Returns to Washington in September

NPES is pushing hard for approval of the long-delayed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Columbia, Panama, and South Korea when Congress returns to Washington the week of September 11. This follows the Association’s efforts during its June Capitol Hill Fly-in during which NPES member executives engaged Members of Congress and their staffs on the importance of these agreements in helping to level the playing field for domestic manufacturers’ exports, which have become an increasingly important component of the U.S. manufacturing sector’s market. And, it comports with NPES’s long-standing support for free and fair international trade.

NPES and many other business organizations and corporations have aggressively pushed Congress for approval of these agreements that were negotiated back in 2006, in the case of Columbia, and 2007, for South Korea and Panama, but have languished since then due to lack of a clear trade policy, and more recently because of a disagreement over linking an extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which augments health and unemployment benefits for workers displaced from their jobs due to overseas competition, with approval of the FTAs themselves.

Finally, after much urging by the business community, as Congress recessed for August, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced an end to the impasse over the stalled FTAs by agreeing to vote on a bi-partisan extension of the TAA program followed by consideration of the three trade agreements themselves. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office and the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R-8-OH) praised and concurred in the compromise plan and process.

Likewise, NPES and many other business groups applaud this significant development, as it is estimated that the three FTAs may increase U.S. exports by $12 billion a year, boosting a still-struggling U.S. economy. Approval of the three FTAs would come at a critical time, as an FTA between South Korea and the European Union went into effect July 1, and an FTA between Columbia and Canada went into place on August 15, each putting U.S. exporters at a disadvantage.

NPES urges its members to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives in support of approving the bi-partisan Trade Adjustment Assistance compromise and the Free Trade Agreements with Columbia, Panama, and South Korea immediately upon Congress’s return in September by clicking on www.npes.org/freetrade.aspx.

For more information contact NPES Government Affairs Director Mark Nuzzaco by phone: 703/264-7235 or e-mail: mnuzzaco@npes.org.

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