These long-stalled proposals would be a major win for Florida and its 14 deepwater seaports. Currently, these ports generate over $65 billion in economic value to the state. The U.S. International Trade Commission reported that implementation of these trade agreements would increase U.S. exports by $13 billion, adding $10 billion to our gross domestic product (GDP). Florida truly is a gateway to the rest of the world. 

Currently, almost 40 percent of exports to Colombia and about 30 percent of exports to Panama come through our state. Removing tariffs on U.S. exports and increasing trade with these countries means more jobs in Florida. 

Take a look at our own backyard. Port Manatee and its partners move approximately nine million tons of cargo each year including fresh produce, forestry products, petroleum products, citrus juice products, fertilizer, steel, aluminum, automobiles, cement, and more. Port Manatee adds more than $2.3 billion dollars annually in regional economic impact and supports more than 24,000 jobs. Expanding trade is an opportunity for jobs in our part of Southwest Florida.

It is imperative that we enact these three FTAs immediately as these countries are entering in trade agreements with other countries. For example, Canada and Colombia just entered into an agreement. That will mean that – for no good reason – U.S. workers and exporters are now disadvantaged in Colombia, a key export market for American-made goods and services. 

Also, South Korea and the European Union (EU) have moved on a trade agreement. Reports show that EU exports to South Korea are already up nearly 20 percent in the handful of weeks since that agreement entered into force. Again, more delay putting American jobs at risk.

Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the US. That means that as we look to expand and sell more of our goods and services, we must look beyond our borders.

With our national unemployment rate over nine percent, this is an easy way to get us back on the road to recovery. Unfortunately, we are losing ground to foreign competitors as a result of our inaction. We need to get aggressive with our trade policy and get Americans back to work.

Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, recently said, “Florida faces a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform its economy by becoming a global hub for trade, logistics, service and export-oriented manufacturing activities.” I couldn’t agree more. Washington must act and act now; we cannot afford to let these trade agreements languish any longer.

 Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.