An Agenda, If You Can Keep It
After years of relative quiescence, Congress actually has a trade agenda in 2011: possible votes on the Korea, Colombia, and Panama trade agreements, and on Russia’s application to join the World Trade Organization.
Whether, when, how, and which elements of this agenda will be completed will largely depend on political calculations in the White House and on Capitol Hill.
“The first question,” observed William Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, “is, how many of these fights does the administration want to have?”
At the top of the list will be the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which President Obama made his own by arm-wrestling the South Koreans for fixes to benefit the American auto industry. Now, that it has the support of Ford and the United Auto Workers, most observers agree that the deal with South Korea has sufficient votes for passage. And Obama has said he wants Congress to act on it by June.
But the business community also wants action on the Colombia and Panama agreements negotiated by the George W. Bush administration. “From our perspective,” said Calman Cohen, president of the Emergency Committee for American Trade, “they are like three children. We want them all to go forward.”
For the full article, see the National Journal here.