Congress passes free-trade deals with 3 nations
The White House and Republicans say trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama will create U.S. jobs.
October 12th, 2011
09:29 PM ET

Congress passes free-trade deals with 3 nations

[Updated at 9:28 p.m.] Congress voted Wednesday on a bipartisan basis to pass free-trade bills with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

President Barack Obama, who dined Thursday at a Korean restaurant with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and is to welcome him Thursday on a state visit to the White House, sent the trade deals to Congress last week.

The White House, Republicans and big business groups have said the deals would create jobs in the United States. The deals could spur $13 billion annually in new exports and "support tens of thousands of jobs," a senior administration official has said.

In a statement issued by the Office of the Press Secretary, Obama called the agreements "a major win" for the nation. "Tonight's vote, with bipartisan support, will significantly boost exports that bear the proud label 'Made in America,' support tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property," he said, promising to sign the bills.

In a separate statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the agreements "will make it easier for American companies to sell their products to South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which will create jobs here at home."

Union groups and some Democrats have opposed the bills, expressing doubt that they would create jobs.

The U.S. agriculture industry has been calling for the free-trade agreement, which could open new markets for beef, wheat and soybeans. The U.S. auto industry is also watching, as the deal with South Korea would mean a decline in tariffs aimed squarely at Detroit automakers.

House Republicans have voiced support for the deals.

"These three trade agreements will support American jobs and help create opportunities to expand for American businesses," Speaker John Boehner said last week in a statement.

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Filed under: Colombia • Panama • Politics • South Korea
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. bobcat2u

    Does this FREE trade mean the same as the others ? You know, the Imports are going to outweigh the exports 10 to 1. How many more of our jobs will go there now ?
    Sorry for being so cynical, but this never works out good for our side.

    October 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • PaulC

      You're not cynical but prophetic. I think 10 to 1 is optimistic.

      October 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      I'm with you guys. Free trade agreements haven't worked out in our favor so far. Why would this be any different?

      October 12, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoRemoteKCl

      The U.S. trade deficit is almost entirely.......OIL............

      October 12, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • ElmerGantry

      Funny how free trade is preferred over fair trade.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      This is where the 99 percent group should place their focus. If tariffs to all imports were raised significantly,corporations would quickly find it more profitable to produce basic products in the U.S. rather than overseas and ship them in. Great numbers of new factories would need to be set up in the U.S. and great numbers of new employees at moderate wage jobs would ensue. The costs of products would go up somewhat BUT the total taxes from the great increase in people paying taxes would significantly reduce and eventually eliminate the national debt. Unfortunately, the MULTI-national companies do not care about the U.S. even if based here .They want to maximixe profit.They would still maximize profits under a new set of tariffs but the U.S citizens would partici[pate to a much greater degree in tyhe benefits.Capitalism is absolutely necessary but set up the GAME so that more are winners and not just the MULTI-nationals. Unfortunately,the Democrats at this time are just as spun around by requiring free reign capitalism as are the Republicans.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Badly-Bent

      Come on guys. Free Trade has worked really well for the top 1% that are taking advantage of that cheap foreign labor.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      BOOO!!! I hope Obama doesn't sign this trash, putting another nail in the coffin of the financial future of our children. Free trade with nations that have workers that get paid 50 cents an hour DOES NOT CREATE AMERICAN JOBS! It causes American companies to hire workers there to sell the products here and make more profit. DO NOT SIGN!!!!

      October 12, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PaulC

    You can tout all the benefits you like but in the final analysis these free trade bill will be like all the others. Ships will arrive at U.S. ports loaded and leave empty. If you think the Koreans are going to buy your goods you are delusional.

    October 12, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1+1=5

      Pffft.... You are not listening to the "hoorays" from farmers, finally being able to export cattle to south korea. South korea is a huge importer of beef, and of certain crops. And farmers employ a large labour force.
      Sure S.K. will send goods this way as well, but it won't be all onesided.

      October 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. momo0828

    The only jobs being to be taken care of with this bill are those of the business executives. We are at the tipping point where the US consumer will simply stop buying and that is when the real fun will start.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. b

    Great. More cheap labor to compete with. If you still have a job in 2012, consider yourself a minority.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. NotInnocent

    These free trade agreements mean more cash for companies to hold offshore and not pay tax on, only to be asking congress to repatriate it in 5 years so the CEOs can hand out record bonuses.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ron

    It should be plain to see, if the Republicans voted for it, the only people that will make any money are Colombia, Panama and South Korea, and American millionaires & billionaires. Our workers are sure to get screwed again.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jason Glugla

    Wow, this is great. The Republicans knock down any parts of the bill which would create jobs here but if it will ship jobs overseas they are all for it. We owe all you tea party folks a big thanks.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. GoRemoteKCl

    The U.S. trade deficit is almost entirely.......OIL..............

    October 12, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      Foreign oil is huge problem, but it’s illogical to pick one commodity, and say “commodity X” is the reason for our trade deficit.

      Have you ever went to Walmart, and looked at all of the labels:

      Made in:
      China
      Mexico
      Vietnam
      Thailand
      India
      Pakistan
      Bangladesh
      Peru

      Get the picture? These trade agreements are really just OUTSOURCING AGREEMENTS that will add to the Walmart tags.
      Made In:

      Columbia
      Panama
      South Korea

      October 12, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason Glugla

      Our trade deficit with China alone is around 300 billion and there is not a drop of oil in it.

      October 12, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ron

    This is the one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on: send jobs over-seas, and create more profits for multi-national corporations at the expense of all the rest of us. Support corporate agriculture at the expense of the small farmers (who hardly even exist anymore).

    October 12, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MIke T

    It's time for Ron Paul!!!

    October 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Thetruefacts

    This is a disaster. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are the worst thing for our economy. They essentially remove tariffs (taxes on imported goods) and quotas (limits on imported goods) that help drive domestic goods. Since labor & materials are much cheaper abroad then here, it means that there will be more imports and less US jobs.

    What they NEED is MORE tariffs and MORE quotas. Don't eliminate these because it forces consumers to reinvest in our economy.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lee

      If the US does not already produce the good it may just mean higher prices for the good. The US makes money off those same goods through the wholesale and resale distribution chains.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. clnee55

    THis bill is drafted by obama, the same as Nafta was signed by Bill Clinton, and the gop is blamed for out sourcing,

    October 12, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • ghwb

      Clinton signed...... the bill that Bush Sr. et al authored. Ds and Rs are exactly the same when it comes to decimating the working class. That is the reason I voted for Perot even though he was nucking futz. I don't understand why the Rs aren't in love with Obama, he has been far more effective at pushing their agenda than any Republican in the modern era, aided by spinless/fraudulent congressional Dems.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason Glugla

      You are correct on that, OBAMA is as wrong on this as Clinton was on NAFTA and WTO.

      October 12, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lee

    finally something everyone can agree on!

    October 12, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    Globalism 1 USA 0

    October 12, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. India

    Free Trade is NOT Fair Trade.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
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