Guest blog b y Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade
Today I am honored to be speaking at the Association of
American Chambers of Commerce at the Latin America Conference in Cartagena,
Columbia. I shared with the hundreds of participants that the United States
will continue its decades-long effort to increase economic integration
throughout Latin America, including the passage and implementation of pending
trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.
Latin America is our fastest-growing export market. The
United States exports three times as much to Latin America as we do to China.
We enjoy significant bilateral trading relationships with most of the countries
in the region, and exports to these countries will soon support more than two
million U.S. jobs.
Currently, 84 percent of U.S. trade within Latin America is
covered by free trade agreements. Passage and implementation of new trade
agreements with Colombia and Panama is an Obama administration priority for
2011, and are expected to support tens of thousands of jobs in America.
President Obama has made his commitment to the free trade
agreements with Panama and Colombia clear because he believes that the future
of the United States is inextricably bound to the future of the people of the
Panama is one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin
America, expanding 6.2 percent in 2010, with similar annual growth forecast
through 2015. Exports of U.S. goods to Colombia are expected to increase by
more than $1.1 billion once the agreement is fully implemented.
Initiatives such as Pathways to Prosperity and the Americas
Competitiveness Forum – two important programs supported by the Department of
Commerce’s International Trade Administration – are critical to improving
economic integration that will benefit every nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Trade between countries in the
Western Hemisphere is important to all of us, supporting millions of jobs and
bettering the lives of our people.