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Barney Bishop, CEO and President of Associated Industries of Florida
Applauds Sen. Martinez and Gov. Crist for their Support of Colombia and Panama Free-Trade Agreements

May 7, 2008

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - “Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) and its members across Florida applaud U.S. Senator Mel Martinez and Governor Charlie Crist for their leadership in supporting free-trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. The pending approval of these free-trade agreements is dependent upon prompt action by the U.S. House of Representatives and we encourage the Speaker of the House to swiftly conduct a free-trade vote.

“In addition to helping our friends abroad, free-trade agreements with Latin America will significantly aid both national and Florida economies at a time an economic boost is greatly needed. Florida’s ports would see an influx of commerce with our proximity to Latin America and this opportunity can not be overlooked. Governor Crist understands the importance of free-trade for all parties involved, as demonstrated by his economic development trip to South America. The freetrade agreements will help many Florida companies that currently pay high taxes to export to Latin American countries and will create more jobs across the state.

“Senator Martinez has also seen first-hand the importance of these agreements while traveling to Colombia and is certain these critical agreements would be approved if the House would allow it to go to vote. If approved, free-trade agreements would strengthen America’s important Latin American allies and ensure democratic ideals prevail.

“AIF continues to be a strong supporter of free-trade by applauding Sen. Martinez’s and Governor Crist’s support of free-trade agreements with Panama and Colombia. AIF also endorsed NAFTA, CAFTA and the Peru free-trade agreement, among others. In addition, AIF is also the state affiliate for the National Association of Manufacturers. Colombia and Panama are our friends and the United States should extend this agreement for the good of our country, as well as theirs.”