Congress on Wednesday passed free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
Once the terms of the deals are implemented – experts expect it will be early 2012 – exports under the trade agreements will increase U.S. GDP by an estimated $12 billion.
"After years of unnecessary delay, American manufacturers, farmers and service providers will gain greater access to nearly 100 million consumers through lower tariffs on our exports to Korea, Colombia and Panama," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. "According to the President’s own metrics, these agreements, which passed with strong bipartisan support, will create up to 250,000 American jobs."
Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., told CNBC the aggreements were created on the Bush Administration's "broken trade model" in which U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost through past free trade pacts. Sanchez, a member of the president's export council, said the free trade agreement with South Korea will cost the U.S. roughly 40,000 textile jobs.
Trade groups and companies were quick to congratulate members of Congress for their bipartisan efforts to approve the free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that the FTAs are a victory for American workers and competitiveness. “It means we will immediately stop losing jobs to our competitors who have cut their own deals and we can start creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs for Americans.”
Peter M. Robinson, president of the U.S. Chamber of International business, said the agreements send an important message that the U.S. will not shrink from global leadership.
“The United States must be in the vanguard of efforts to open up markets abroad – bilaterally, in regional forums, and at the multilateral level," Robinson said. "Passage of these free trade agreements will also assure countries in Latin America and Asia that the United States continues to be engaged in those regions and to support its allies.”