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Colombia Web 'tariff ticker' introduced

April 25, 2008 at 9:14 AM

WASHINGTON, April 25 (UPI) -- Two U.S. Cabinet members introduced a "tariff ticker" meant to press Congress into action on the Colombia Free-Trade Agreement.

The ticker "will show on a daily basis the amount of tariffs that our exporters are paying to Colombia that they wouldn't have to pay if we had the free-trade agreement approved," Carlos Gutierrez, secretary of commerce, said Thursday.

"This ticker would be a daily reminder to the American people -- to members of Congress -- that our farmers, our workers, our small businesses are at a disadvantage because we will not submit the FTA with Colombia to a vote," Gutierrez said.

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer also promoted the ticker, which would be posted on a Web site at trade.gov and count Colombian export tariffs that amount to $1.9 million a day, a Commerce Department news release said.

The count would be backdated 520 days because of the delay in approving the agreement.

By backdating, the ticker is "approaching $1 billion," the statement said.

"This important agreement would provide a level playing field for America's farmers, ranchers and businesses," Schafer said.

"Instead, the House is continuing to work against the best interests of the American people."

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