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Republicans, Democrat Push for Approval of Pending Free Trade Agreements

05/12/10

Source: WorldTrade Interactive
Related Topics: International Trade

Marking the three-year anniversary of a bipartisan agreement on trade, a handful of Republican lawmakers and at least one Democrat called on the Obama administration May 10 to work for congressional approval of pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea.

Rep. Dave Camp, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said that the May 10 agreement was “designed to move forward on America’s trade policy” but that since then “the trade agenda has collapsed through inaction by the Administration and key Democrats in Congress.” Camp asserted that one of the best ways for the administration to reach its goal of expanding exports to create jobs would be to advance the FTAs. Rep. Kevin Brady, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, agreed, pointing out that according to the White House’s own analysis the three pending FTAs would create 250,000 new private sector jobs.

Camp and Brady, along with Rep. Frank Lucas, the ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, also released a report showing that the delay in implementing the Colombia FTA has resulted in a significant decline in U.S. agricultural exports. The report finds that from 2008 to 2009 U.S. farmers lost over $800 million in market access in Colombia and lost market share to Argentina and Brazil in products such as corn, wheat, soybeans and soybean oil. The report attributes that loss to the implementation of trade agreements between those countries and Colombia and warns that U.S. agricultural exports could erode even further if Canada and the European Union implement their pending FTAs with Colombia before the U.S. “If the President is serious about developing the rural economy,” Lucas said, “there is no better place to start than by allowing our farmers and ranchers to benefit from the access we have already negotiated for their products.”

Separately, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and Ranking Member Richard Lugar sent a letter to President Obama May 10 calling for the timely resolution of outstanding issues related to the Korea FTA and for the submission of implementing legislation to Congress as soon as possible. “While an overall national consensus on trade issues remains elusive, the KORUS FTA merits our prompt consideration,” the senators wrote. “The KORUS FTA contains the highest standards to date on labor and environmental concerns, and Korea has a strong record in both these areas.” In addition, the scope of the agreement and the size of the two economies “are significant enough to create thousands of well-paying jobs and help generate billions in wealth for both countries.” The letter warned that further inaction could risk ceding market share to economies like China, which replaced the U.S. as Korea’s top trading partner in 2004, or the European Union and India, which have both signed their own trade agreements with Korea. With respect to outstanding obstacles such as Korea’s barriers to U.S. beef and automobiles, the two senators opined that “a renewed commitment to move on the KORUS FTA will create an atmosphere more conducive to resolution of these issues.”

For more information, visit http://www.strtrade.com/wti/wti.asp?pub=0&story=34553&date=5/12/2010&company=





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