Despite the fact that the Colombia military just freed three American hostages from the leftist terrorist group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia), liberals here in America are still refusing to pass, or even give a single hearing to, the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Today, The Washington Post reports on what the liberals decision to kill American leadership on free trade is doing to the Colombian economy:
Exports surged in the 1990s as the United States granted temporary trade preferences to Colombia, allowing many of its products to enter the world’s largest market duty-free. They really took off after 2002, when Washington expanded that agreement to include Colombia’s all-important textile sector. Humming assembly lines making Ralph Lauren socks and Levi’s jeans sprang up across this picturesque Andean valley, creating tens of thousands of jobs and turning Medellin into a model of the curative power of liberalized trade.
Yet the renaissance of a city best known outside Colombia for years as the base of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin cartel is entering a period of uncertainty that illustrates just how fragile such gains can be. The city’s export industry has begun to slip backward, officials here say. It happens as Colombia and many developing nations are struggling to maintain their edge in the increasingly competitive world of global trade.
Companies say doubts about Colombia’s future trading relationship with the United States have been a factor in a recent flow of jobs from Medellin into Central America, where a bloc of nations sealed a free trade agreement with the United States in 2006.
“If my client is wondering if a pair of socks made in Medellin will make it to the U.S. duty-free this time next year, they will just go to Central America,” said Luis Fernando Restrepo Echavarría, Crystal’s president. “That’s exactly what they’re doing.”