POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

President Obama to Pushes for Failed, Job Destroying NAFTA-Like Deals for Central and South America and Far East

by David Trumbull

March 6, 2009

On March 2, 2009, the office of the United States Trade Representative published 2009 TRADE POLICY AGENDA AND 2008 ANNUAL REPORT of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreements Program. I have just begun to examine the 467-page document, but it clearly is radically different from what many Obama supporters thought they heard him say on the campaign trail. While candidate Obama criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that his Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton pushed though congress in 1993, President Obama now seeks to expand the NAFTA model to include Panama, Colombia, and South Korea.

According to the report—

  • The President plans to ask Congress for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). Formerly called "fast track" TPA is an Act of Congress that authorizes the President to negotiate and sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with another country or countries, with the provision that the FTA will be brought to congress for approval by both houses on an up-or-down vote with no amendments.

  • The President hopes to move on the Panama Free Trade Agreement quickly.

    The United States and Panama launched negotiations of a free trade agreement in April 2004 and concluded the negotiations in December 2006. The two governments signed the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) on June 28, 2007. Panama approved the TPA on July 11, 2007. The United States has not yet approved the agreement.

  • He plans to establish benchmarks for progress on the Colombian and South Korean free trade agreements.

    The United States and Colombia signed the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) in November 2006 and a Protocol of Amendment in June 2007. The Colombian Congress approved the agreement and protocol in 2007. The United States has not yet approved the agreement.

    The United States and the Republic of Korea successfully concluded the negotiation of a free trade agreement on April 1, 2007 and signed the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) on June 30, 2007. The KORUS FTA is the most commercially significant free trade agreement the United States has concluded in 16 years.

  • He pledged to continue this country’s commitment to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) system of multilateral trading rules and dispute settlement.

  • He expressed his support for a strong, market-opening agreement for both goods and services in the WTO’s Doha Round negotiations.

    [David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee. Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.]