The Free Trade Deal with Colombia Supports an Ally

By April 7, 2011General, Trade

El Tiempo: Obama-Santos agreement on FTA, with 4 key points

Washington Post editorial, “Mr. Obama’s free-trade deal with Colombia“:

PRESIDENT OBAMA will welcome a bruised American ally to the White House on Thursday and take a step toward mending relations. For the past decade, Colombia has been a strong and steady U.S. friend at a time when leftist demagogues — including the presidents of two of its neighbors — have dedicated themselves to turning Latin America against the United States. Colombia’s reward was to be vilified by labor unions intent on torpedoing the free-trade agreement that it negotiated with the Bush administration and that has been neglected by Mr. Obama, who skipped Colombia during his recent tour of the region.

Mr. Obama’s agreement with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on an “action plan” for obtaining congressional ratification of the free-trade agreement could augur both a political and a foreign policy breakthrough for his administration. Mr. Obama, who will endorse the deal just days after launching his reelection campaign, gets points for political bravery: Though Colombia made substantial concessions to win the White House’s support, the pact will still be opposed by most unions and many Democratic members of Congress.

Bravery belated, perhaps, but very good in any case. As for the unions and anti-trade members of Congress, one doubts there would ever be a possible “compromise” that would lead them to support an agreement. Protectionism is a matter of core philosophy.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Democratic whip, issued a statement lauding the developments.

Today’s development on issues of worker rights and violence against workers is a positive and important step towards passage of the Colombia FTA. These issues needed to be addressed, and I am pleased the Administration and Colombian government have agreed to a concrete action plan. Colombia is a key ally in South America, and it is in our economic and national security interests to further strengthen that relationship. I look forward to working with the Administration to advance the Colombia FTA, which I continue to support. As we work to enact the three pending trade agreements, we must also extend expired provisions of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program that help American workers who have lost their jobs as a result of trade.”

Rep. Hoyer has been a clear and consistent supporter for many years, which also warrants mention as political bravery.

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