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Statement by Secretary Schafer on the launch of the Colombia "Tariff Ticker"
The live calculation shows the rising costs on American exports
WASHINGTON, April 24, 2008 - Today, the Bush Administration launched a tool for Americans to see just how much money is being paid to Colombia in tariffs for our products going into their country, while the Colombian products arrive on our shores duty free!
President Bush sent Congress legislation to implement the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. (FTA) The House changed the rules in the middle of the game, delaying a vote to implement the agreement. This important agreement would provide a level playing field for America's farmers, ranchers and businesses. Instead, the House is continuing to work against the best interests of the American people.
At a time when Americans are living and working in a strained economy, why is it that Congress has voted to allow Colombian goods to arrive on our shores duty free, but will not vote to give our agricultural products shipped to that country the same status? Apparently Congress' priorities are not with the American people.
Since the Colombia FTA was signed, nearly $1 billion in tariffs have been assessed to U.S. products being exported to Colombia. In the meantime, Colombian exports have come into the U.S. duty-free. This is not in the best interest of America and certainly not in the best interest of American farmers.
With the Agreement in place, tariffs on more than 70 percent of U.S. agricultural products destined to Colombia will be immediately eliminated.
Once implemented, our trade relationship with Colombia will only improve. By establishing more equitable market access conditions, the Agreement will level the economic playing field for American farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers who have faced barriers to Colombia's market.
It is time for Congress to act in the best interest of America's economy, America's farmers, and America's citizens. It is time for Congress to pass legislation to implement the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.