The House Committee on Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee has held the first in a series of three hearings it has schedule regarding the pending free-trade agreements, this one dealt with the U.S./Colombia FTA.

At the hearing, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro expressed the Obama administration’s “commitment to a robust trade policy” that benefits both the United States and Colombia. She made it clear that the Colombia FTA is a high priority for both countries, which share “the sense of urgency” in advancing the FTA.

However, part of the issue in preventing final approval for this particular FTA is that the administration feels that the Colombian government still needs to do more, particularly with regard to its labor laws.

The U.S/-Colombia FTA has been languishing since it was signed by the two countries in November 2006, points out the National Pork Producers Council. It, along with the South Korea and the Panama FTAs, still require Congress’ final “go-ahead.”

Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said he would not pass South Korea without adding Colombia and Panama to the package. South Korea is the closest of the three to be finalized. Brady said he wanted to see a July 1 deadline for the three FTAs.

Passage of the Colombia FTA, which NPPC strongly supports, would generate an additional $815 million a year in U.S. agricultural exports. Specific to the pork industry, it would cause live-hog prices in the United States to rise by $1.15 per head, according to estimates by Dermot Hayes, Iowa State University agricultural economist. It also would create 919 new jobs in the U.S. pork industry, when fully implemented.

Source: NPPC