The President made a good case for congressional approval of the three pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama and their nearly 100 million customers.

It was smart to frame the issue in terms of the many benefits these agreements will give to American workers “to compete with anyone in the world and empower them by opening up new markets overseas … [for] products ‘Made in the USA,'” as the President said.

Especially with the economic uncertainty today, Bush underscored the urgent need for Congress to focus on the economic growth these agreements will provide by expanding markets for American goods, crops and services. Already, the lower dollar has caused a dramatic rise in U.S. exports, perhaps enough to allow our economy to avoid a recession or to make a recession milder.

Although not identifying him by name, the President drew special attention to the threat to the hemisphere posed by Hugo Chavez and other “purveyors of false populism.” He warned the members of Congress that, if they fail to approve the trade agreement with Colombia they will put the entire Andean region in jeopardy and deal a severe blow to American credibility and reliability as a partner.