Monday, October 10, 2011

More “Free” Trade Anyone?

Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the bills sponsored by Representative Eric Cantor and a co-sponsor that is the first step in implementing the U.S. Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. The entire House of Representatives and the Senate are expected to vote on the bills the week of October 10.

Congressional action on these agreements has been a long time coming. The parties entered into the U.S.- Korea Free Trade Agreement on June 30, 2007 The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement was entered into on November 22, 2006, as amended by both governments on June 28, 2007 (Colombia TPA). The parties entered into the U.S.- Panama Trade Promotion Act on June 28, 2007 (Panama TPA).

Both the House and the Senate are expected to pass the three bills, referred to as the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, the United States- Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act and the United States- Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act. Although President Obama is expected to sign the bills into law rather quickly, each Agreement will not take effect until the United States is satisfied that each country will be in compliance with the terms of the Agreements, respectively. For example, there is some concern that labor rights issues could delay the effect date of the Colombia Agreement. It is unlikely that any terms of the agreements will change between now and the enactment date. However, it is doubtful that the Korea FTA, Colombia TPA or the Panama TPA will take effect before the beginning of 2012. It could take up to several months for the President to certify that the countries are in compliance.

Korea FTA H.R. 3080

Colombia TPA H.R. 3078

Panama TPA H.R. 3079

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