1,733 Days and Counting. The Biggest Trade Barrier to the 3 Free Trade Agreements? Barack Obama
It's now been 1,733 days since the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement was signed on November 22, 2006, and it's been 570 days since President Obama's State of the Union address on January 27, 2010, where he outlined his plan to help U.S. businesses double exports over the next five years and in the process add two million American jobs. Further, Obama warned that “If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores.”Well, that's exactly what’s happening , but it’s not the good part about doubling exports and adding U.S. jobs, it’s the bad part about the U.S. sitting on the sidelines while Colombia and Panama negotiate free trade agreements (FTAs) with the European Union and Canada, and while Korea finalizes an FTA with the European Union. Meanwhile, America’s FTAs with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, all signed back in 2006 or 2007, are now languishing into their fourth or fifth year awaiting Congressional approval.What makes those delays especially inexcusable is the fact that the main beneficiaries of the stalled free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama would actually be American companies and workers, because the agreements would open up those markets to U.S. exports by eliminating the stiff tariffs currently imposed on our products (while 90 percent of Colombian and Panamanian imports currently enter the U.S. duty-free).Here's the latest on the FTAs from today's WSJ:"President Obama says he wants to get the U.S. economy growing, so here's a tip that may help: In order for Congress to ratify free-trade agreements, the White House must first send the signed deals to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. On his three-state tour in the Midwest this week, Mr. Obama repeatedly told audiences that the Korea, Colombia and Panama free-trade deals would all be law by now if not for an obstructionist Congress. Passing the deals is something Congress "could do right now," he said. Except that's not true. Congress can't pass the agreements "right now" because it doesn't have them. They are still sitting on the President's desk. Seriously.If you are surprised to learn this, you are not alone. White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest only learned the news on Friday during a press conference. Asked why the FTAs haven't been sent, he responded, "We have not sent them over?"