What’s ahead for free trade?

In her column today, Kimberley Strassel throws some light on what’s behind President Obama’s recent endorsement of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement and what might lie ahead after the November elections. Strassel points out that Obama seems to be waiting for the revival of a trade agenda to be rescued by the post-election GOP.  She says:

Having presided over the most anti-free trade Congress since the days of Smoot-Hawley, having protected Democrats from any vote that might earn them union retribution, and having had little positive to say about trade, the president is now looking to a bolstered GOP caucus to pass a trade agenda.  That is, if even a GOP majority can rescue Democrats from their increasingly unfettered protectionism.

Strassel also notes the lost economic opportunities for the U.S. in not ratifying the bottled U.S. -Colombia FTA, which has cost the U.S. a whopping 31 percent of its market share in products in Columbia, while other countries making trade deals with that nation have seen their market share rise by 22 percent.

Even if the Republicans make significant gains in the elections and push a free trade agenda, Strassel says, they’ll still need some Democratic support.  And that’s where Obama needs to be serious about free trade and lead that charge against the protectionists and union blockers.