Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Opposition To Job-Creating Trade Deals?

With unemployment still hovering above 9 percent and President Obama desperate to fix our struggling economy, why haven’t the job-creating free trade agreements (FTA) with Colombia, Panama and especially South Korea been approved yet?

The political wrangling over these trade deals has been going on for several years but still there are members of Congress who oppose free trade. In a global economy that becomes more interconnected daily, that's hard to fathom -- and apparently politically suicidal.

Of the 21 congressional lawmakers who just weeks before the crucial mid-term elections sent to the President this letter in opposition to the FTAs , almost a third lost their races.

What, we wonder, do -- or, in some cases, did -- they oppose? The more than 20,000 U.S. agricultural jobs the FTAs would create? The $2.5 billion in new U.S. farm exports?

Regardless, while the U.S. has dithered on passing its FTAs, other countries have been moving forward with their own agreements, including ones with South Korea. That's bad news for the U.S. pork industry as well as many other sectors, which stand to lose market share in that emerging Asian nation.

There is reason for optimism, though. The White House is promising to send the Korea FTA for congressional ratification in a few weeks, and there appears to be bipartisan support for the deal in the House and Senate. There's even talk that the three agreements will be considered as one package.

Here's hoping the protectionist proclivities of petulant politicians are past.

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