“The outstanding trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea must remain a top priority for the United States.  I have been encouraged by recent statements from Ambassador Ron Kirk and the Obama Administration that they are willing to proactively engage our trading partners to work toward passage of these agreements.

Trade with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea is a clear win for all three countries and the United States and will provide unequivocal economic benefits.  The agreements with Colombia and Panama, in particular, are mature and ripe for passage.  It is important to note that Congress has already passed this legislation once – just under a different title, the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement.

There is encouraging news that the Panama agreement may be considered by Congress in the near future.  However, passage of that agreement does not mean that we can place Colombia and South Korea on the shelf.  I strongly encourage the Obama Administration to identify what the road forward entails for each agreement.  This work can – and should – happen in tandem with formal action on the Panama agreement.

I have had the privilege of working with Ambassador Kirk in my former role as a member of the Texas State Legislature.  I believe he brings a positive, pragmatic approach to the often difficult realm of trade issues, and I look forward to seeing the results of his leadership on these issues in the near future.”