Two prestigious American newspapers, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, have both published editorials in support of ratification of a free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia, Spanish news agency EFE reported Monday.
Both newspapers asserted that although there is pressure from trade unionists against the FTA with Colombia, it has bipartisan support in the U.S.Congress and the administration of Barack Obama should act soon to prevent the derailment of its trade policy.
An FTA with Colombia would extend duty-free access for U.S. products in Colombian markets, a benefit Colombian products have enjoyed for years with the Andean Trade Preference Act, the Washington Post said. This pact expired last month, with Republicans refusing to extend it and calling instead for a full FTA.
The Washington Post also said that the outstanding issues holding up the vote, for example labor rights issues in Colombia, are “very much geared towards a resolution.”
The editorial echoes the view of Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus who stated that in order to pass the proposed FTAs with Colombia and Panama they should be combined with that of South Korea, which the U.S. has said it prioritizes.
Obama’s administration has taken the position that an attempt to pass the three FTAs together “is putting all three agreements at risk.”
The Washington Post furthermore outlined the issues of contention as being those of the House Democrats opposing an extension of Andean Trade Benefits, while the Republicans oppose extending aid to American workers negatively affected by opening trade regulations.
The publication asserted that political leaders should instead focus on the benefits of the treaties, saying that they would increase exports and create U.S. jobs.
The Wall Street Journal also backed Baucus’ position as the delay in passing a trade agreement with Colombia is costing the U.S. market shares in Colombia. According to Baucus, China has tripled its share of the Colombian market, while the U.S. has declined by 20%, which is “putting American jobs at stake.”
China is currently Colombia’s second trade partner, after the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal also advocated the combining of all three pending FTAs, saying, “the only thing that is required is that the White House agrees.”