Temporizing on Trade

By June 30, 2009Trade

From President Obama’s joint news conference Monday with Colombia’s president, Alvaro Uribe. President Obama:

We discussed, most prominently, the interests of both countries in moving forward on a free trade agreement.  This is something that has been discussed for quite some time.  I have instructed Ambassador Kirk, our United States Trade Representative, to begin working closely with President Uribe’s team on how we can proceed on a free trade agreement.  There are obvious difficulties involved in the process and there remains work to do, but I’m confident that ultimately we can strike a deal that is good for the people of Colombia and good for the people of the United States.

Indeed it IS something that has been discussed for quite some time. At some point, soon, the President will need to say, “I call on Congress to enact the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement,” or the discussions will go on ad infinitum.

Delay might be a defensible strategy if the goal is to satisfy U.S. political constituencies like organized labor, but it does nothing for the U.S. exports and the economy. In the meantime, other countries like Canada will gain market share in Colombia at U.S. expense.

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