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Posted at 5:03 PM ET, 03/ 8/2011

Didn't Obama pledge to complete 3 free-trade deals?

By Jennifer Rubin

The Wall Street Journal reports: "U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk on Monday appealed to congressional leaders to begin work "without delay" toward ratifying a free-trade deal with South Korea, even as Republican leaders continued to press to link such action with movement on trade pacts with Colombia and Panama." On Wednesday Kirk will be back to testify before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, as he promised to do before his trip to Colombia. There should be some fireworks.

The president of Colombia is practically pleading for ratification of the agreement that has been under negotiation for four years:

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos urged the U.S. on Tuesday to ratify the stalled free trade agreement as it stands, suggesting the Obama administration will face stiff resistance to demands for further steps on labor issues.

"What we want is a free trade agreement that we have already negotiated, which is held up in the U.S. Congress," Santos said in a statement.

While Santos has previously called for U.S. approval of the trade deal negotiated nearly four years ago, the latest statement is significant because it follows a U.S. fact-finding mission late last month to determine what additional measures must be taken before President Barack Obama is willing to submit the pact to Congress. ... A Colombian official confirmed there have been no discussions between the two governments on the free trade deal nor any new demands from the Obama administration since the U.S. interagency team visited two weeks ago.

A Republican Senate source tells me that Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will push Kirk on the Colombia deal. There is no word on when, if ever, the Colombia deal will be sent to Congress, but the White House "promises to move ... like they've promised before."

Republicans insist on "three for three" -- completion and ratification of all the trade deals. After all, isn't that what Obama promised in his State of the Union address? The word one hears from Senate offices about the refusal to move forward on the Panama and Colombia deals is "inexplicable."

After all, each day and week that go by we lose market share to foreign competitors whose governments don't dillydally on negotiating access to overseas markets. How many U.S. jobs are being lost in the process? When talking about "investments," Obama likes to compare the United States to China. In some respects that is an inapt comparison, but in this case we are getting lapped by China and all other countries. Why is the administration allowing this? Presumably those Big Labor allies are more important to the White House than the jobs the deals will create.

It's about time that employers and free-market advocates speak up and challenge the administration to keep its word. There is simply no justification for the White House's foot dragging.

By Jennifer Rubin  | March 8, 2011; 5:03 PM ET
Categories:  foreign policy  
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Before we get comments advocating tariffs, etc., please read Mark Perry's article today:

Posted by: RickCaird | March 8, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

The Colombia pact is a no-brainer because it removes tariff barriers on US exports to that country; most Colombian exports, and we’re talking strictly the legal ones, already enter the US tariff-free. Industrial companies like Caterpillar -- did not “the one” spend some time with its CEO and visit one of its factories?-– would have an easier time competing against Komatsu and other furriners were the act to pass. But the unions -- wait, isn’t Caterpillar a union shop? -- adamantly oppose the deal, ostensibly because of murders of union leaders in that country years ago. There is no question that Uribe put an end to that and other lawlessness; his successor has maintained that record.

So thoughtful folks wonder what’s really got the unions’ undies in a bunch. I conclude that they want to punish a South American country that has free markets and free elections, but I’m a right-wing knuckle-dragger.

Posted by: SCMike1 | March 8, 2011 11:11 PM | Report abuse

President Obama didn't promise to send all three FTAs to Congress at the same time.

Posted by: jb505 | March 9, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

It's not inexplicable, it's in the Won's wording awhile ago - the deals have to meet a certain standard, I do believe from the unions.............

The Won said/phrased something about the deals in a certain way and a blogger out there dissected it.

I'm just not going to look it up.

Ohhh, couldn't find that but found this post from Vodkapundit from April of 09!

09.........2 years he's been sitting on it....

At the Summit of the Americas in Port-of-Spain, Mr. Obama asked to be seated next to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, and the pair discussed the deal, U.S. officials said. During his presidential campaign, Mr. Obama had voiced opposition to the pact, citing violence toward labor organizers in Colombia. The deal, which would allow free trade between the two nations, is awaiting ratification in the U.S. Senate and has already been approved by Colombia’s congress.

Since taking office, Mr. Obama has struck a more-positive tone on free trade than he often did during the campaign. He and aides have spoken out against protectionism, and in Mexico last week he declined to raise the question of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, despite a pledge to do so last year.

I wonder if this has something 2 do w/the holdup???

Mr. Obama had voiced opposition to the pact, citing violence toward labor organizers in Colombia.

Posted by: gopthestupidparty | March 9, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

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