The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

President Obama's free trade agreement with Columbia will hurt the US.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/4/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,682 times Debate No: 23406
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




I will be arguing the resolution that the recently signed free trade agreement between the US and Mexico should not have been passed, and will hurt the US. My opponent will argue that the agreement will, in fact, be beneficial to us. The agreement's effects on Columbia do not matter for this debate, only it's effects here. All assumptions made concerning the agreement's long term effects on the country must be somewhat fact based. Round 1 is acceptance, Round 4 is a conclusion with no new arguments.


This will be my first debate here, good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting, Con. I guess this debate will be fair, as I am also relatively new to this site. Let me lay out some definitions before I start.

Free Trade Agreement:

A contract by which two or more nations are allowed tariff free imports and exports.

President Obama’s free trade agreement with Colombia:

The agreement between the US and Colombia that will remove a duties and tariffs on imports and exports by 2022.


1992 was perhaps one of the most pivotal elections in United States history. It was a time of new technology, expansion, and greed in America, but a time where greed WAS good. That election, unlike almost any other in the history of the country, was a three-man race - between GOP incumbent George Bush, Democrat Bill Clinton, and Independent Ross Perot [1]. Mr. Perot was different from other politicians of the time in that he wasn't afraid to speak the truth, even if it cost him votes. Perot, unlike his two challengers, was opposed to NAFTA, a major free trade agreement that was about to be signed between the US, Canada, and Mexico [1]. Perot warned of the dangers of enacting free trade agreements so rashly with so little regulations. At the time, he was regarded as crazy for his unpopular beliefs about the agreement. "What could possibly be wrong with increasing our exports?" most people thought. Now, in 2012, we look back upon NAFTA, Bill Clinton having won the election and having signed the agreement. Frankly, NAFTA was one of the most miserable failures in United States history. Not only were over 800,000 US jobs lost, but also hundreds of thousands of other US jobs saw gigantic wage deductions [2]. Through this debate, I will explain to you why these things happened - and why the United States made the same mistake twice in signing the agreement with Colombia (hereon referred to as TPA).


Contention 1 - The TPA will negatively affect jobs in the US.

Sub Contention A - That Giant Sucking Sound...

In 1992, Ross Perot warned of "The Giant Sucking Sound" of good American jobs being lost to Mexico if NAFTA was signed [1]. Unfortunately, his warnings proved to be true, and history shows that job outsourcing ALWAYS occurs when free trade agreements are signed with countries that have lower minimum wages, no unions, and other low work standards. Colombia is a prime example of this type of country. First of all, Colombia has an incredibly low minimum wage, of 515,000 Colombian pesos a month (the equivalent of about $292 a month) [3]. What manufacturing company wouldn't want to outsource their workers into a place with wages that low? Also, Colombia is one of the most dangerous places in the world for workers' unions [4]. The targeting of unionists by paramilitaries has led to thousands of deaths, and currently less than 6% of Colombian workers are unionized because of this. As former paramilitary Carlos Castaño said, "We kill trade unionists because they interfere with people working." EPI has estimated that the proposed U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will result in the loss or displacement of 55,000 U.S. jobs [5].

Sub Contention B - Wages in the US will drop as a result of the TPA.

Besides the jobs lost as a result of the TPA, many jobs will be worsened and their wages dropped. Under NAFTA, companies were able to threaten their workers by demanding that they either disband their unions, or lose their jobs to Mexican workers, who are able to work for less money. Why wouldn't this happen under the TPA, as well? Workers will be left with no choice but to disband their unions, thus resulting in no collective bargaining and therefore much lower wages. So despite what President Obama says, this agreement will only make life harder for middle class Americans.

Contention 2 - The TPA will increase the US trade deficit.

For those of you who don’t know, a trade defiect is when a nation's imports exceed its exports. The US has a gigantic trade deficit, and that is one of the main contributing factors to our bogged down GDP. Obviously, the goal of the TPA is to increase exports, therefore decreasing our trade deficit. But what really happens under free trade agreemetns with countries like Colombia, that have lower product prices? We begin to import more, as well! And usually, the new import figures are even higher than the new export figures, only resulting in a trade deficit rise. For example, in 1990, before NAFTA, our trade defit with Mexico was about 1.4 billion [6]. Then several years later in 2000, after NAFTA had been signed, our trade deficit had risen to over 24 billion. Ladies and gentlemen, these are not at all good numbers. And Mexico's work and product standards are very similar to that of Colombia, so I don't see why our trade deficit won't grow under the TPA as well!

Contention 3 - The TPA will increase the US federal budget deficit.

This contention is a common sense observation, but very serious nonetheless. In 2011 the US budget deficit was about $1.56 trillion [7]. This is, by anyone's standards, way too much money. There are two ways to stop this deficit - cut spending, or raise taxes. But until one of those things is done, which will likely not occur until the CBO approves a new annual budget, the deficit will remain. Therefore, eliminating tariffs on imports (which will happen under the TPA) will decrease revenue, as the government is no longer collecting money from everything brought in from Colombia. This decrease in revenue means a LARGER DEFICIT, which is something we cannot afford right now.

Contention 4 - The TPA will negatively impact the environment.

Up until recently, the environmental impact of free trade agreements has been disregarded in their contracts. An example of this was NAFTA. Although there was a section for environmental regulations in the text of NAFTA, it is common knowledge that these regulations have been severely inadequate and unsuccessful, and the effects of air and water pollution since then have been ignored [8]. Under the TPA, it seems we have made the same mistake. Almost NO new regulations have been demanded of Colombia under this agreement, and the manufacturing companies there are still able to pollute freely, when we could have used this agreement to INCREASE their regulations.


Under the TPA, we have made the same mistake that we made almost 20 years ago - allowing free trade that will ultimately cause us to lose jobs, decrease wages, increase the trade deficit, decrease federal revenue, and hurt the world environment.












It has long been known that opening up trade to other societies will expand and benefit one-- from centuries ago, the Europeans discovered different foods, survival mechanisms, and even a whole new continent to claim their own through exploration and opening the door of oppurtunity to trade. It is in this country, now independently called America, that new trade is being opened up again. The free trade agreement with Columbia will certainly not harm the United States-- in fact, multiple benefits will be shown. The burden of the proof in this debate lies on the pro to not only show that the United States will not be beneitted by this agreement, but also to show that it will actually and concretely harm the US. The con, however, must only prove that there is no harm to only the US, which will be proven through a serious of evidence and historical analysis.
Contention 1: Direct microeconomic gain
It is common sense that international trade, especially with countries with necessary raw goods to export and a need for manufactured products to import, is incredibly beneficial to a countries economic sphere. Experts, too, predict that this deal could boost the United States' GDP, in huge need of stimulation, by $2.5 billion dollars per year. A much needed boost, trade is clearly the answer. Regardless of any economic statistics, all things considered, the United States is gaining, and clearly not being harmed, by a load of money into it's economy. However, trade with Columbia specifically will be incredibly beneficial to the United States. Columbian goods, especially much needed raw materials such as meat, mining, and others have had a very protective tariff on them for quite some time. However, with the removal of this tariff, international trade is expected to increase by 15%, with Columbia due to this becoming a much larger role in the United States' trade situation then before, due to the restrictive nature of the trade. Just between the two, U.S. profit would increase by $1.6 billion dollars-- and this is only the direct net gain from the actual trade. �Not only will this open up the door to an even further growth internationally, but will create more jobs in the United States-- much needed for both the government and citizens, by boosting the need for positions such as trade analysts, foreign investors, and trade financers in the U.S. by 33%. Clearly a direct benefit solely from the trade with Columbia, this new agreement will help the United States with massive amounts of economic growth, stimulus, and net gain, bringing me to my next point.
Contention 2: Indirect effects within the U.S. caused by the opening of Columbian trade
As stated in contention 1, another hugely positive impact to elaborate on is the creation of jobs , research, and stimulus (not exclusively economic) that will indubitably happen in the united states as a result of opening up trade with Columbia. Statistics show that the jobs created with the opening of trade to one country, let alone one so significant in goods as Columbia, would increase by 2 million in just 5 years. A huge benefit to employers in the most significant, fastest growing, and highest benefitting from this such as the rice industry will add to the amount of free jobs and circulating currency withing the US. Aditional monetary benefit can be found in the fact that we have lost more than $3.4 billion dollars in tariffs with Columbia alone. Putting flowing currency and stimulating jobs back into the US's system would be a clear benefit from the opening in the trade agreement.

Though not the only, but the most important and significant benefit to the united states by opening up trade and eleminating tariffs with Columbia would not only outweigh any potential drawbacks to the united states (which I will directly refute in the next round), but benefit the united states, especially considering its current economic status, economically and monetariy through direct gain as well as the stimulation of additional benefits in the united states. Thank you.

Steven Chase, Stephen Harper defends free-trade deal with Colombia The Globe and Mail August 2011;
Hidalgo, Juan C. and Griswold, D., Trade Agreement Would Promote U.S. Exports and Colombian Civil Society, Free Trade Bulletin No. 44, 15 February 2011�
El Congreso de Colombia, Proyecto de Ley no. 201 de 2012 �
Tarter, Steve, and McDonald, Karen, Schock, Cat CEO praise trade pact with Colombia, The Journal Star, 6 April 2011. Rusciano, Alex, Caterpillar Applauds Pending US - Colombia Free Trade Agreement, WCBU Radio News, 6 April 2011 Luxner, Larry, Colombia Reaches Crossroads With Free Trade Agreement, The Washington Diplomat, 27 July 2011
Debate Round No. 2


SayWhat forfeited this round.



Let us examine pro's arguments.
First, my opponent mentions NAFTA, an agreement signed over 20 years ago. Not only is this an outdated example, as the rules and regulations for free trade have changed, but it is also irrelevant. The United States was in a severely different condition in 1992-- and however rash the decision was, this was the first major trade agreement established by them. Going into this with no experience, it is almost inevitable that certain drawbacks would have came from it. With experience, as my opponent says, from learning from this mistake, it is sure that the U.S. going into the TPA will not make the same mistakes as it did.
In addition, the circumstances of this historical argument are vastly different. Having the complications of three countries, Mexico and Canada were largely responsible for any drawbacks the States may have experienced due to NAFTA. However, with Columbia being 1. more experienced in international trade and 2. being interdependent with the United States for certain trade goods, the TPA will prove only to be beneficial.

My opponent additionally claims, with merely the same historical speculation, that our companies due to this will go overseas for workers. However, this is just not true and merely speculative. Under the TPA, the main focus is for the trading of raw goods. Not only did we have certain agreements with Columbia previously established for years, without any issues of unemployment, but President Obama actually does prove himself that employment for middle class Americans, and the American economy as a whole, will only benefit from this agreement. It will open up jobs in the sectors of business that the agreement involves, such as financers and trade analysts in foreign fields.
Pro also argues, again with the same groundwork, that the trade and budget deficit will increase. My opponent argues that the trade tariffs being removed will cut revenue in the US government. Though true to a minimal extent, what we have to look at is that fact that this works both ways, and actually proves to be an argument for the con side. With the U.S. importing from Columbia more than it exports, the lack of tariff on the trade that we will import regardless of the agreement actually decreases governmental spending on trade with one of our biggest suppliers of certain products, Columbia. And though my opponent argues that this will also increase our trade deficit with Columbia, what we need to look at again is the fact that Columbia and US are interdependent. Being in much worse shape economically than the U.S, Columbia, if anything, would be losing money through lack of tariffs from the U.S, and, though disbeneficial for Columbia, is irrelevant to this debate and only proves the stability of the agreement.
Finally, pro argues that the TPA will negatively impact the environment. However, the trade that we are doing with them regardless of the agreement obviously has the same environmental effects. But with the TPA, though minimal, even my opponent admits that some new regulations have been placed with the agreement and thus, though still not the best scenario, this agreement is actually benefitting the environment by placing a few regulations on pollution if made.
Conclusively, though my opponent raises some good and logical arguments, they are all speculative and have nothing but a historically irrelevant basis, and thus I encourage you all to vote con in this round of the benefits and lack of drawbacks of the United States-Columbia free trade agreement.
Debate Round No. 3


I concede. To be honest, my opinion on free trade has changed since starting this debate. Con wins.


I am glad my arguments were convincing. Conclusively, the US should partake in the free trade agreement with Columbia because it will be beneficial to our economy and many other things. Thank you and please vote con!
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 4 years ago
He forefeited, SayWhat, SayWhat?
Posted by SayWhat 4 years ago
You're running out of time Con!
Posted by SayWhat 4 years ago
My source #1 in round 2 is the video.
Posted by SayWhat 4 years ago
Sorry! In round 1 when I said "Mexico," I meant Colombia. But I assume you realized that.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded and forfeited. Con had the better arguments anyway. The two opening arguments were well done in terms of presenting the cases.