Florida Senator Marco Rubio on Friday pushed the Obama Administration to swiftly approve the Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which is expected to yield significant benefits for Florida's economy.
"The U.S. has lost up to $1 billion because of the president's delay in passing this agreement," the freshman senator said.
Rubio added that ratification of the trade agreement by the U.S. Congress is a top priority for Florida. The FTA would create as many as 6,400 new jobs for Floridians and gain an additional $500 million in exported goods from Colombia.
According to eFlorida Strategic Intelligence, the U.S. Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) was sent to Congress for ratification in April 2007, but has not yet been voted on.
President Obama has requested that the office of the U.S. Trade Representative look into addressing any issues still outstanding with respect to this international treaty, but without a timetable. The TPA is still awaiting final approval from the U.S. before it can become law.
Rubio added that while the ratification and implementation of this treaty would benefit both countries, U.S. exporters stand to gain the most.
Otherwise, "the U.S. will continue to lose international trade to China because of the Obama administration's delay in passing this agreement."
Colombian Ambassador to the U.S., Gabriel Silva, says that the FTA will immediately eliminate tariffs on over 80 percent of US consumer and industrial exports to Colombia. More than 71 percent of Colombia's exported goods (mainly flowers) enter the U.S. through the Port of Miami.
"Colombia loves America and has a special place in our hearts for the U.S. That friendship is threatened by something Colombia cannot explain," Silva said. "Trade is more than just business, it's a real expression of friendship."
As a boost to push for approval of the FTA, Florida Governor Rick Scott also announced he is reallocating state transportation funds to pay $77 million needed to carry out a dredging project at the port of Miami so larger ships may enter the city.
Cristina Puig is a freelance writer.