in Talks to Build Panama Canal Rival
The Sovereign Society
by Bob Bauman: Another
Swiss IRS Target
Why, you ask,
would the Beijing Communist Chinese government want to finance a
US$7.6 billion alternate route that geographically parallels and
could economically rival the Panama Canal?
can; and they are.
Juan Manuel Santos has announced that Bogotá and Beijing
are negotiating a deal to build a multi-billion-dollar railway connecting
Colombias Caribbean and Pacific coasts. In an obvious swipe
at the U.S. Santos said: Asia is the new motor of the world
officials confirm they have agreed to invest in the $7.6 billion
project, which would run about 140 miles (220 km) from Colombias
northern Caribbean region, on the Atlantic side near Cartagena,
to an as-yet undecided site on its western Pacific Ocean coast,
mainly as a route to transport Colombias abundant coal to
energy hungry China.
is a leading world tax haven, but at the heart of the nations
economy is the famous Panama Canal, now undergoing a US$6 billion
expansion. It doesnt need any rivals stealing its transcontinental
But both Panama
and its southern neighbor, Colombia, despite their past willing
support for U.S. policies, have been pushed around by President
Obama and Democrats beholden to U.S. labor unions.
countries have been waiting none too patiently for the U.S. Senate
to ratify free trade agreements (FTAs) signed with the United States
way back in 2006.
been so desperate for FTA approval that recently it surrendered
to U.S. demands that it end its historic strict bank secrecy by
signing a tax information exchange agreement
with the U.S.
The two FTAs
have languished ever since 2006 in the Harry Reids Democrat-controlled
Senate because of questionable objections from American labor unions
who claim both countries treat their unions and workers unfairly.
Union opponents also mutter about environmental concerns
and Panamas alleged harboring of U.S. tax cheats.
In the meantime
American businesses, especially farmers, have lost market share
in Colombia to competitors from Brazil and Argentina. Other countries,
including Canada, are increasing business there, too. Their trade
advantages would be removed if U.S. tariffs on products like wheat
and beef were erased under the pending FTAs.
Backyard No More
has long been seen as Americas backyard
but not anymore.
With the U.S.
mired in Iraq and Afghanistan, nations in Latin America have felt
neglected by Washington. Not surprisingly, Venezuelas far
left elected dictator, Hugo Chavez, has unstintingly supported Beijings
Last year Chinese
foreign investment in Latin America exceeded US$15 billion. In addition
China has become a new export market for Latin America. Well over
$50 billion of Latin American products, chiefly iron and copper
ores, soya, and crude oil, will go to China this year as well.
An Obama administration
official expects that the FTAs will be sent to the Senate for ratification
by June but they have been promising that without action
for two years.
week Obamas boys seem to have been shaken out of their FTA
A U.S. interagency
delegation is in Colombia this week supposedly to assess labor progress.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) also is in Colombia,
in part to push the FTA. His committee has jurisdiction over international
trade and he hails from a farm state. All that activity coincides
this week with a trip led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to drum
up support for the deal.
Barack Obama has given priority to a trade deal with South Korea
and plans to submit it for congressional approval within weeks,
Republicans and business groups are demanding that the FTAs with
Colombia and Panama be sent up at the same time.
I Pick Panama
of that potential Chinese-Colombian transcontinental railroad seems
to have worked wonders in Washington.
And as one
who knows Panama, I advise no worries about the future of its famous
Canal or its booming economy. By the way, Panama has had its own
successful transcontinental railway since 1855 and its
still in very good operating condition. Plan to ride it when you
visit the isthmus.
with permission from the Sovereign
March 8, 2011
E. Bauman is a former Member of the United States House of Representatives
from Maryland, (19731981). He is also a former federal official
and state legislator; Member, Washington, DC Bar; Graduate of the
Georgetown University Law Center (1964) and the School of Foreign
Service (1959), Washington, DC. Robert currently serves as legal
counsel for the Sovereign
© 2011 Sovereign Society