On top of that, the FTA would help defend against the growing threat posed by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who has been trying to undermine U.S. interests in the region for years. We need more market-based democracy in that part of the world -- not less.
The third FTA is with Colombia's next-door neighbor: Panama. The price of delay there has been very similar. Again, we have an agreement forged several years ago (2007) that has sat on the sidelines while Panama hammers out trade deals with a wide variety of nations, including Canada, Singapore, Taiwan and Chile. Meanwhile, U.S. companies have missed key opportunities -- job-creating ones -- that would have come if they could have bid on the $5 billion construction of a third set of locks for the Panama Canal.
So the next time you hear Washington politicians bemoaning the economy, ask why these three trade agreements haven't been put on the job. They need to be approved -- now. No conditions. Starting date: yesterday.
Ed Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org).