Free trade agreements on the table

A man and woman shake hands

Jeremy Hobson: As we await this morning's numbers on the U.S. Trade Deficit. And there's word the White House will ask for Congressional approval of a free trade pact with Colombia within weeks. South Korea and Panama free trade deals are also pending.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: The pending agreement with Colombia has been holding things up. Colombia has a record of violence against union organizers. But last week, Colombia agreed to prosecute cases of violence.

But economist Robert Scott of the Economic Policy Institute says the U.S. should hold off on ratification, to make sure Colombia delivers on its promises.

Robert Scott: I'm very, very skeptical about the Colombian agreement. Colombia saw 51 labor leaders killed last year. So this is an ongoing problem.

But Peterson Institute economist Gary Hufbauer says President Obama needs Congress to ratify all three trade deals -- soon -- so he can keep his pledge to increase U.S. exports. Haufbauer says the deals would boost the export of U.S. services, like hospital management and accounting.

Gary Hufbauer: The potential for exporting services over the next 20 years is enormous. It could conceivably exceed our manufacturers' exports.

Congressional Republicans want the president to send them all three trade agreements by July 1st.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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