Gary Shapiro

The truth is that despite the president's rhetorical support for the pending FTAs, he has put little White House muscle behind their passage. Indeed, the president has never mentioned the FTAs in any of his recent speeches on job creation or the economy. This absence of leadership has allowed pro-union congressional lawmakers to put up obstacle after obstacle to block their approval.

But the free-trade opponents are fighting a losing battle. When unemployment remains above 9 percent, cutting U.S. companies off from emerging markets won't build jobs. Protectionism is a short-sighted position that will, inevitably, come back to haunt us - just as the CFR report makes clear.

Besides, it's been so long since Congress has compromised on behalf of the American people. At least on the matter of free trade, the case is closed and shut.

That's because the benefits of free trade couldn't be clearer. Over the last 15 years, free trade has created more than 25 million jobs and increased real wages for U.S. workers. In fact, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the cost of not passing the Colombian and South Korean agreements has been on the order of 300,000 jobs. The longer we delay passage, the longer hundreds of thousands of Americans remain out of work.

As president and CEO of an association representing more than 2,000 consumer technology companies, I know firsthand just how important free trade is for the continued prosperity of our industry. But the consumer electronics industry isn't alone. Across the economic spectrum, free trade creates wealth and jobs - and both have never been more needed than right now.

Gary Shapiro

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the U.S. trade association representing some 2,000 consumer electronics companies.