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Headwinds for Obama trade agenda

Business Times - 03 Jun 2011


Headwinds for Obama trade agenda

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

AS PART of its stated commitment to help American companies double their exports by 2015, the Obama administration has been pressing Congress to approve the proposed free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Indeed, early this year in his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama hailed a trade deal with South Korea 'that will support at least 70,000 American jobs'.

In fact, President Obama and his aides had to deal with strong opposition from Democrats in Congress and their supporters in the labour unions who opposed the three pacts that were negotiated by former president George W Bush and that enjoyed the backing of a majority of the pro-business Republicans on Capitol Hill. The White House was able to eventually secure Democratic support only after making some modifications to the Korean bill.

At a time when the US economy is recovering from the…