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Bush Makes Colombia FTA Ratification a Priority

Posted April. 09, 2008 07:06,   


The Bush administration will concentrate its efforts against the Democratic-led Congress on the ratification of the free trade agreement with Colombia.

U.S. President George. W. Bush announced in a speech to Congress on Monday that he will submit legislation for a U.S. FTA with Colombia. Bush also later urged Congress to ratify the legislation as soon as possible.

However, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized President Bush in a statement, arguing that the bill would likely be rejected because it would only result in creating more confusion and error.

The United States has long considered the FTA with Columbia a priority over the FTA with South Korea. The Bush administration and Congressional leaders reached an agreement last June that they would discuss FTAs with Peru and Columbia prior to FTAs with Panama and Korea. Congress ratified the FTA with Peru last December.

Despite the Democrats’ negative attitude, the Bush administration had to draw the line as time is running out. Congress plans to have a month-long summer vacation from Aug. 2 and to recess from Sep. 26, in preparation for the presidential election.

Of course, ratification of the FTA with Columbia may enter a new phase, if a breakthrough is made in the revision of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA) that the Bush administration and the Democrats have been negotiating.

However, if differences over the Columbia-U.S. FTA between the Bush administration and Congress are unresolved, ratification of the Korea-U.S. FTA is likely to be delayed indefinitely.

President Lee Myung-bak, who will pay a state visit to the United States next week, plans to urge Congressional leaders to swiftly pass the KORUS FTA. However, experts believe that Lee will find it difficult to elicit a positive response, citing that the U.S. beef import issue has yet to be resolved and that the FTA has not yet been ratified by Korea’s National Assembly. Meanwhile, the Columbian national legislature has already passed its FTA with the United States.