As they say, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Sure, one of my top priorities upon being hired as WCIT president was the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. But, I figured that I’d need at least a week to get going before I could even begin to focus on those…and today is day 6. However, sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time; yesterday brought the news that the Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a mock markup for them tomorrow, June 30. In addition, the House Ways and Means Committee is considering scheduling its mock markup of the draft implementing bills for the three pending free trade agreements for next Thursday, July 7.
The reason WCIT putting such a big priority on these agreements is that they have the potential to support hundreds of thousands of American jobs, and generate significant new export opportunities for U.S. manufacturers, farmers, and services providers. In particular, they are vital to Washington state’s continued economic recovery: South Korea was Washington’s fourth largest export customer in 2010, while Colombia and Panama represent important, fast-growing markets for our state (close to $400 million in exports last year). I won’t bore you with all the facts and figures, but definitely check out additional information on Korea, Colombia and Panama if you’re interested.
Although there is a long way to go in this process, the Senate Finance Committee action – and the potential House Ways and Means Committee follow-up – is exciting progress on one of WCIT’s top policy priorities. Which means that it’s also a vital moment to ensure that the Washington congressional delegation knows how important these FTAs are to our state. To that end, I’ve created a new page on the blog with contact information for our Congressional delegation. If you – like me – are planning to contact them to express your support (especially Senator Cantwell, who’s on the Finance Committee), feel free to use this handy new resource.
More on these three FTAs as they progress!