International trade has grown rapidly in recent decades. Most countries impose tariffs on imports, which protect domestic industries from overseas competition but distort world markets. With jobs and wages under pressure, both global trade talks and bilateral trade agreements have become harder and harder to negotiate. Although a free-trade deal has been negotiated by the United States and Colombia, it still awaits congressional approval. Last month, President George W. Bush submitted the Colombia free-trade agreement to Congress, but leaders in the House of Representatives have indefinitely delayed a vote on ratification.
On May 12, the Brookings Institution hosted Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Kit Bond (R-Mo.) for a discussion of the economic and national security implications of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Senator Grassley is the ranking member of the Committee on Finance, with Senate jurisdiction over international trade. Senator Bond is the vice chairman on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Brookings Managing Director William Antholis provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.