Welles Orr Discusses Chances for Colombia and Panama FTAs in the Latin America Advisor

"Will a U.S. Push for a Korea FTA Hurt Panama and Colombia?"
Latin America Advisor
09.16.10Welles Orr discusses whether the push for a U.S.-Korea free trade agreement (FTA) will harm the chances of agreements with Colombia and Panama.  He said, "Pushing the U.S.- Korea Free Trade Agreement to the head of the queue takes the FTAs out of the order in which they were negotiated, and creates a possibility that one difficult vote conducted under Trade Promotion Authority procedures will produce 'trade fatigue' and leave the Colombia and Panama FTAs in an even more extended limbo. The U.S.-Korea FTA now has a seemingly-solid timetable, although no one should start counting until the administration formally sends implementing legislation to Capitol Hill. For the other two FTAs, the outlook remains grim; benchmarks for fixing the cited problems (on labor violence in Colombia and tax haven concerns in Panama) remain fuzzy, and no timetable has been floated--much less promised. The disadvantage of standing aside while other nations continue trade liberalization has made its way into the president's rhetoric and is capturing greater attention in the Congress as well. Moreover, pro-trade stakeholders are doing a better job of publicizing the actual-- rather than feared--results of FTAs already implemented, which among other things have produced a solid U.S. trade surplus with the countries affected. Trade is rightly regarded as one of the more promising areas for bipartisan cooperation in the U.S. government's next cycle."
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