Administration Moving Trade Deals Toward Congress

Republicans want FTA's submitted soon regardless of how they are packaged.

Published on: Apr 25, 2011

When the South Korea, Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements are sent to Congress it is not likely they will arrive as one package as many Congressional members have requested. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk says, it they would  the U.S. would run the risk of having all three knocked down. Kirk remains optimistic that all three will pass congressional muster.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says so as long as they are submitted at the same time, Republicans don't care how they are packaged. Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, says there is still some work to be done on all three deals.

The White House said talks with Congress would start soon on how to advance the trade agenda but declined to give specifics on timing.

"We will be engaged in the coming days and weeks with the congressional leadership to determine the precise schedule, sequencing and packaging of the three free trade agreements," said Michael Froman, White House deputy national security adviser for international economics.

The long-delayed Panama, Colombia and South Korea free-trade pacts were first signed by former President George W. Bush, but he was unable to persuade a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives to approve them due to opposition from labor unions.

Prospects for approval have improved since Republicans recaptured control of the House in last year's election. Republicans have been pressing Obama to send the three trade pacts to Congress for a vote by July 1.

In the meantime, momentum behind the Trans-Pacific partnership is beginning to pick up. The TPP is a big-picture goal for the White House. Nine countries, including the U.S. are negotiating the terms of the group. The U.S. hopes it will get an even bigger boost down the road if countries like China, Japan and South Korea join.