The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Leaders continue to urge movement on free trade pacts

The Obama administration’s announcement that Colombia has completed the second stage of action items on a labor rights plan related to its proposed free trade agreement with the United States prompted Democrats to call for advancing the agreement in conjunction with trade adjustment assistance for American workers and Republicans to ask President Obama to send the agreement to Capitol Hill immediately.

“We are eager to see Congress move the Colombia trade agreement forward as soon as possible along with the Korea and Panama agreements and a renewal of trade adjustment assistance,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said after making the announcement Monday. “It’s time to seize the market-opening, job-supporting opportunities of the pending trade agreements for American businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers.”

Kirk's announcement also noted that Colombia still has other milestones to meet under the agreement.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., noted that Colombia had reached the second stage of labor commitments in advance of a June 15 deadline, and that he is committed to bringing the agreement to a vote and to renewing and extending trade adjustment assistance for American workers who have been hurt by free trade agerements.

“We’re working together to move this trade agreement forward along with crucial assistance to help American workers meet the challenge of global competition," Baucus said.

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called on the administration to submit the implementing legislation that the administration has said it will not submit until there is an agreement to bring up trade adjustment assistance.

Referring to the South Korean and Panama agreements as well, Hatch said in a news release, “With today’s news, the Obama administration has lost another excuse to delay the implementation of these vital trade pacts; they must immediately send implementing legislation to Congress. Every day that passes puts American exporters at an international competitive disadvantage and delays the creation of tens of thousands of jobs for American workers. Time is of the essence.”

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, also urged Obama to send the implementing legislation to Congress promptly.