courtesy of FoxBusiness

In a broadcast interview with FOX Business Network’s Cheryl Casone, Secretary Gutierrez, talks about strong third quarter GDP growth and how free trade pacts with Columbia, China and other countries will benefit everyone. Excerpts are below.

Casone: “This morning, the Commerce Department reported that the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.9% in the third quarter despite rising oil prices and the credit crunch. That is the fastest pace in 18 months.”

On GDP growth:

“We saw strength across the board. The only part that drove down growth as we know is residential construction. Non-residential construction was up. Consumer spending was up three percent, which is a strong quarter. Our exports were a big contributor to GDP growth and that’s why it’s so important to get these FTA’s passed and get going on opening up more markets for our exports.”

On Free Trade pacts:

“They should go through. You mentioned Peru and Columbia. Right now those countries are coming into the US duty free. The Congress has given them preferences. The only thing we’re asking for is to give the same preference to our exporters, our manufacturers, our farmers and workers to level the playing field. It’s very straight forward and we should pass those free trade agreements as soon as possible, especially now that we’re seeing the benefits of those exports to our economy.”

On trade with Columbia:

We did something called Plan Columbia under President Clinton, which started under President Bush. We put $5.5bn dollars in investment behind their military, intelligence and social programs to help them improve, and they have improved. They will improve even more with a free trade agreement…We don’t want to see drugs coming into the US so it’s to our benefit. An FTA will help them improve their economy. I see no benefit to anyone of not approving the FTA. If we’re willing to put $5.5bn dollars into their country to help improve them, we should be willing to approve an FTA.”

On trade with China:

“We’re working very closely with the Chinese government and one of the big topics on the agenda for our meeting in December will be product safety. They have a big stake in this…They are an exporting country, an exporting economy. They cannot afford to have the ‘Made in China’ brand tarnished…The American people should know that this is the number one topic on the agenda for our meeting in December.”