Laws, Costs, Burdens: Where’s the Growth Agenda? Like Trade?

By October 1, 2009Trade

From Dow-Jones, September 29, “US Secy Locke: Colombia Trade Pact Not Likely Ratified In ’09“:

SANTIAGO (Dow Jones)–The U.S. Congress won’t likely ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia this year as it’s currently focusing on health care reform and energy-related legislation, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said Tuesday.

“It’s pretty doubtful” that the pact will be ratified this year, although the Obama administration is pushing forward with this agreement and similar ones with South Korea and Panama, the secretary said, noting that U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is heading up the effort to conclude the trade deals.

Speaking to reporters in Santiago on the sidelines of the third Americas Competitiveness Forum, Locke said the U.S. aims to strenghten its trade ties with Latin America as the U.S. and Latin economies have greatly benefitted from existing ties.

“It’s in everyone’s economic interest to have trade agreements and lower tariff barriers,” Locke said. He added that President Barack Obama has indicated the U.S. is seeking an equal partnership with the countries in the region.

Secretary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk have been excellent evangelists for the economic benefits of trade agreements, but we’ve yet to see any of the advocacy converted into action.

President Obama spoke to two labor events in September, the AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic in Cincinnati and the AFL-CIO national convention in Pittsburgh. At neither event did he even mention the word “trade.” Organized labor could be forgiven for thinking the unions have been given a de facto veto over White House utterances or Congressional action on the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

It hardly seems like the political environment will improve for expanding trade in 2010, when labor uses its campaign cash to bludgeon candidates into toeing their line.

See also the Investor’s Business Daily editorial, “Serving Castro First“:

On the very day Colombia was humiliated by Locke’s comments in Chile, the State Department announced it had sent acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Bisa Williams to Havana to negotiate new agreements with the ruling Castro oligarchy…[snip]

So why isn’t Colombia getting the same “pace of steps”? All it gets are sorry excuses. The U.S.-Colombia trade treaty was signed in 2006 and is ready to go. Its only barrier is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who doesn’t want a vote because she knows it will pass.

No country has ever been strung along so cynically.


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