SCHIFF STATEMENT ON THE PENDING FREE TRADE AGREEMENTSWednesday October 12, 2011
Washington, DC - Today, Rep. Adam Schiff released the following statement on the pending Free Trade Agreements:
"Throughout my tenure in the House, I have reviewed the free trade agreements brought to Congress on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the economic impact on California and the nation, labor, human rights and environmental concerns, and the effect on American diplomacy and national security.
"After careful review of the Korea, Colombia and Panama free trade agreements, I have decided to support the Korea and Panama agreements and to oppose the deal with Colombia.
"The United States and South Korea have a deep and enduring relationship, forged on the battlefields of the Korean War and strengthened by more than six decades of vigilance against aggression by communist North Korea. In that time, South Korea has been transformed from impoverished and authoritarian nation to a vibrant democracy and the world’s 15th largest economy.
"According to the United States Trade Representative, the U.S.-South Korea agreement is estimated to increase American goods exports to South Korea by $10-11 billion, supporting at least 70,000 American jobs. South Korea is already the fifth largest importer of California goods, buying an annual average of $7.2 billion worth of goods from California businesses – primarily computer and electronic products and machinery – between 2008 and 2010. Korea is also a growing market for America’s entertainment industry, which is a cornerstone of the economy of greater Los Angeles area.
"I believe that both Korea and the United States will benefit from the added commerce and that our alliance will be strengthened as well and I will vote to support the agreement.
"Similarly, the United States and Panama have a long association, going back more than a century and centered on the Panama Canal. Not only will this agreement reinforce the friendship and ties between the United States and Panama, it will also give California firms the opportunity to build on the more than a quarter billion dollars worth of goods that our state exports to Panama each year. The United States already enjoys a trade surplus with Panama, and this agreement will give American business and American workers a further opportunity to successfully bid on work associated with the $5.25 billion project to expand the Panama Canal in the coming years.
"I believe that the U.S. – Panama Free Trade Agreement will benefit both countries and I will vote to support the agreement.
"Colombia has made enormous strides in the past few years in the fight against the FARC guerrillas and drug lords, who have threatened the nation’s existence and turned large parts of the country into war zones. In visiting the country, I have been impressed by the courage of the Colombian people and by the breadth of the suffering that the country has endured for many years. However, despite Colombia’s progress, the country still has a long way to go to meet acceptable standards of adherence to human rights norms, including labor rights. Unfortunately, violence against trade unionists is an endemic feature of life in Colombia and the country had more labor leaders assassinated last year than the rest of the world combined.
"Earlier this year, the Administration and the Colombian government negotiated a Labor Action Plan to stem the violence and bring those responsible for the murders and other crimes to justice. While I applaud the fact that the Colombian government seems sincere in wanting to address the problem, I am unconvinced that the efforts thus far are enough to withdraw the leverage that we have through the Andean Trade Promotion program, which requires periodic renewal. A study released last month by Human Rights Watch found "virtually no progress" by the Colombian government in getting convictions for killings that have occurred since early 2007.
"I am not convinced that the U.S. – Colombia Free Trade Agreement will lead to further safeguards for Colombian workers and their representatives and I will vote to oppose the agreement."