This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.
Now that leaders of the European Union have expressed interest in moving ahead with free trade talks with Colombia, lawmakers in Congress should rethink their own refusal to finalize the pending trade agreement with the strongest U.S. ally in South America. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues voted to put the deal on ice back in April, Rep. Rahm Emanuel suggested that a vote was still possible before the end of the year. Well, Mr. Emanuel, how about it?
The Illinois congressman is now President-elect Obama's designated chief of staff in the new White House. He should advise Speaker Pelosi to take this politically divisive issue off the president-elect's agenda by clearing it for an up-or-down floor vote in the lame-duck session of Congress. That would free the future president from having to deal with one more difficult issue when he takes office in January – and it presents both countries with a win-win situation.
The advantage for the United States is that it levels the playing field. U.S. products sold in Colombia currently pay tariffs of up to 35 percent, while practically all of Colombia's goods enter this country duty-free, thanks to existing trade law.
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