The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Korea, other pacts may wait for other trade goals

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said today that the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement is “ready to go,” but also made it clear that the Obama administration wants to advance it in the context of other trade goals.

“Korea is ready to go now, as we have said. The Colombia trade agreement could be ready in a matter of weeks. And we expect the same to be true for Panama, since the ball is in their court and they are making good progress,” Kirk said in remarks prepared for delivery to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Annual Trade Symposium.

“But make no mistake – the administration is also considering timing of next steps on the Korea, Colombia and Panama agreements in the context of a larger discussion about sequencing a comprehensive trade agenda this year,” Kirk said. “Specifically, the administration is seeking to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance, as well as the [Andean Trade Preference Act] and [General System of Preferences] trade preference programs, and secure [permanent normal trade relations] for Russia as it accedes to the [World Trade Organization], including by working with Congress to terminate application of Jackson-Vanik.”

Kirk also said that the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda negotiations “represent an important opportunity to achieve trade liberalization on a global scale, through market access commitments as well as important work on trade facilitation, but added that emerging economies must open their markets.

“Doha can only reach this potential if key partners like China, India and Brazil are willing to recognize their success as exporting powers by agreeing to open their markets to a degree much greater than what is currently on the negotiating table,” he said.