Colombia is not America's most important trading partner, but Speaker Pelosi's recent scuttling of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement is nonetheless very bad news. It represents yet another leap from silly and potentially-damaging anti-trade rhetoric into the realm of outright protectionism. As this good analysis from the Weekly Standard, which also tracks the political dynamics, shows, 90% of Colombian imports to the U.S. are already duty-free. This deal was mostly about gaining American access to Colombia's market. No brainer, right? Yet U.S. politicians still killed the deal. That's how bad the political sentiment on trade has become.
Some of this is no doubt election-year maneuvering. But Washington has been on an anti-trade tirade for several years now. Remember the threatened 27.5% tariff on all Chinese imports, the blocking of the Dubai Ports World deal, and the weak dollar that was supposed to "relieve" the trade deficit but instead caused the housing and oil spikes? These events all came years ago but are still today reverberating. This unfortunately looks to be a wave much bigger than the 2008 election. We've got to act to make sure this dangerous anti-trade trend is reversed.