New trade pacts approved by Congress will provide a major boost to help push the U.S. out of its economic malaise, a business trade official told forwarders and customs brokers.
Peter Friedmann, counsel to the Pacific Coast Council of freight forwarders and customs brokers, pointed to the approval of free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama along with the launch of the new cross-border U.S.-Mexico trucking program and the renewal of Generalized System of Preferences as strong signs of progress in international trade.
Friedmann told the annual Wesccon meeting in Rancho Mirage, Calif., the bipartisan approval and cooperation between Congress and the White House also demonstrate political leaders in Washington are capable of working together for the good of the country.
The free trade agreement with South Korea is especially important, Friedmann said, noting the European Union and Korea signed a free trade pact earlier this year and the next day UPS shifted a significant amount of lift to Europe to handle the surge in freight.
“I think the Korea FTA is a great opportunity that extends beyond just agriculture and forest products,” he said.
Renewal of the GSP benefits for developing countries dragged on for more than a year, but Congress recently approved the extension and made it retroactive to when the previous renewal expired. Renewal of GSP was likewise a bipartisan effort.
Mexico had enacted high tariffs on certain U.S. exports when partisan squabbling prevented Congress from opening the border to Mexican truckers as called for under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Now that a pilot project is underway allowing Mexican truckers into the U.S., those tariffs have been lifted and U.S. shipments should resume.
Friedmann urged the group of third parties to speak with their congressional representatives to get the true picture of what is happening in Washington.
“If you don’t watch the process but look at the conclusions, you will be more positive,” Friedmann said.