Today’s Washington Times has a lengthy article on the Obama Administration’s trade agenda vis-à-vis the stalled free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. The article explores the likelihood of President Obama being able to resolve issues with the South Korea FTA before the November summit in that country – a deadline he had earlier announced. The South Korea FTA has some tough opposition from some automakers and labor unions — and little support among Congressional Democrats.
While the U.S. dithers on this agreement, the article notes, the European Union, Canada, and Australia are going full-speed ahead to finalize their own trade pacts with South Korea, which will leave the U.S. in a weakened position regarding some important exports to that country.
The two other languishing deals also face some fierce opposition, especially from labor unions.
To get some movement on these trade pacts, the president will have to do more than make a few public pronouncements expressing his support. He’s going to have to take on the union opposition, get House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in line, rally his troops by touting the benefits of these agreements, bring together those spurned business groups, and reach out to some Republican supporters of free trade. A likely scenario? Not hardly.