Secretary Rice, CFR Usher in Pan-American Community

Trade Agreements for Peru, Colombia and Panama Have ‘Concluded’ Forming an “Unbroken Chain of Trading Partners from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic Circle” that Will “Level” U.S. Wages

Aaron Dykes / JonesReport.com | October 16, 2007

 

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made remarks at the C.F.R. hosted Organization of American States event on October 9 that the “concluded” trade agreements with Peru, Colombia and Panama are a significant step towards the broader ‘vision’ of a Pan-American Community.

“The founding ideal of our Pan-American Community, borne across many centuries and carried by us still, is the hope that life in the hemisphere would signify a break with the Old World, and a new beginning for all mankind… and the creation of a new system of international politics, based on mutual respect and cooperation among independent nations.”

The agreements would break down more than 80% of tariffs in respect to each of the three countries for both exports and imports and would include more than $17 billion in debt relief– extending action already taken under the Millennium Challenge Corporation in 2004-2005.

These agreements come just after the passage of CAFTA, rapidly bringing ten additional countries into a hemispheric trade bloc (on top of existing trade blocs MERCOSUR and CAN).

“We now have the potential to create an unbroken chain of trading partners from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic Circle,” Rice told the OAS.

“Today, we are making a similar strategic commitment in our hemisphere, to the success of our Pan-American Community. This commitment was begun in the last decade by leaders of both parties. Now it is being advanced further.”

Since the executive branch lost fast-track renewal in June, the trade agreements must be passed by Congress, but Rice indicated that bipartisan support has already been arranged by way of “43 prominent Democrats– former ambassadors, cabinet officials, policy experts and members of Congress.”

President Bush mirrored Rice’s optimism about bipartisan support for the agreements, which also include South Korea, citing former Secretary Shalala (and dozens of her Democratic colleagues): “Latin America is up for grabs. We fully recognize that asking the United States Congress to vote on these trade agreements is politically charged. Nonetheless, rejecting these agreements would set back regional U.S. interests for a generation. We must not walk away now.”

However, a recent poll shows that 6-in-10 Republican voters now “believe free trade is bad for the U.S. economy” — which brings Republicans in-line with the standing views of Democrats.

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