White House Nears Submission of Trade Legislation to Congress

Posted October 3rd, 2011 at 1:35 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama says he will have an announcement soon on long-delayed free trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

The president told reporters Monday the announcement would come “in the next day or so.”

The three deals — negotiated by Mr. Obama’s Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush — could potentially boost U.S. exports by $13 billion annually. But their approval has been held up by opposition from some Democratic lawmakers to various terms of the agreements — especially the Colombia deal over concerns about attacks on unionized labor in the South American nation.

Congressional passage of the deals could come quickly, possibly by mid-October, ahead of a planned state visit to the U.S. by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. The trade deals could be approved along with legislation that would extend financial benefits to U.S. workers who lose their jobs because of foreign competition.

The president has pledged support for increased foreign trade as a way to boost U.S. job creation and the sluggish American economy. The three deals could heavily impact U.S. agriculture, automakers, financial services, and legal and healthcare companies — as well as increase exports to the U.S. from South Korea, Colombia and Panama.