This is a good editorial on why Obama’s policies haven’t led to more exports.
President Obama claims he’ll double U.S. exports in five years. But a new report from Congress shows U.S. firms losing major ground to competitors because he won’t act on free trade pacts with Colombia and Panama.
In a report titled “Losing Jobs and Alienating Friends: The Consequences of Falling Behind on Free Trade With Colombia and Panama,” the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Richard Lugar presents a bleak picture of Latin American markets and allies slipping away as the administration fails to enact the Colombia and Panama free-trade agreements.
While President Obama tries to get on the good side of business by saying he’d go forward with the U.S.-Korea free-trade deal, he’s making only vague statements of support for the other two treaties.
“What the president says matters a lot less than what he does,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday in calling for the passage of the long-languishing other two pacts.
Staffer Carl Meacham visited Colombia and Panama in late January and has returned with a long list of horror stories for the Foreign Relations Committee report to be released Tuesday. He tells of lost contracts, evaporating market share and unhappy allies writing off America as a partner in favor of new relationships with more trade-friendly partners like China.
The trend also affects other Latin states. Obama is getting ready to visit Brazil and Chile next month and will tout those new relationships. But he’s unlikely to note that both have quietly made China, instead of the U.S., their top trading partner.
In 10 years, China will also become the top trade partner of Colombia and Panama, nations that would rather have America in that spot. Without the trade pacts, however, it won’t happen.
Meacham found that the contractual losses to American companies in the absence of the pacts are already mounting. They include $5.25 billion for Panama Canal expansion, $1.5 billion for Panama City Metro construction and millions in highway contracts in both Panama and Colombia.
These contracts are going to foreigners from countries where duty-free trade has given their companies a competitive advantage as U.S. companies pay tariffs.
Meacham also found market-share losses in the same grim league, as Colombia signs off on free-trade deals with Canada (expected in two or three months), Europe (expected this summer) and South Korea (in third-stage negotiations in Los Angeles now).
Free trade is not only good for jobs, but also for foreign policy. It gives you leverage with a country because you’re more tightly coupled to them. Unfortunately, Obama is a socialist and he opposes free trade. So not only will be lose jobs, but also influence and goodwill abroad.