A broad U.S. business coalition urged President-elect Barack Obama
on Thursday to drop his opposition to a free trade pact with Colombia
and work with Congress to approve it and a second agreement with Panama
“To delay approval of these trade deals would be to abandon
America’s closest allies in Latin America at critical time,” the Latin
America Trade Coalition of 1,200 businesses and business groups said in
a letter to Obama.
With Congress already looking at measures to boost the troubled U.S.
economy, “approval of these agreements is a logical part of any
stimulus package,” the coalition said.
The plea came as Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat and critic of
Bush administration trade policies, said the results of Tuesday’s
presidential and congressional election signaled a “time out” on trade
deals for the United States.
“This year, we saw more candidates campaigning on fair trade than
in, to my knowledge, any time in the nation’s history,” Brown told
reporters. “We’re seeing a continuing rejection by voters of
NAFTA-style trade agreements.”
Newly-elected Reps. Larry Kissell, a North Carolina Democrat, and
Mark Schauer, a Michigan Democrat, attributed their victories to voter
concern about trade pacts.
“We’ve been swimming against a tide of unfair trade policies,” said
Schauer, whose state’s economy has been battered by a slump in the auto
Kissell, whose state has seen heavy textile industry job losses,
called for a moratorium on trade deals until “we see good jobs coming
Obama has said he could not support the Colombia agreement until
that country does much more to reduce murders of trade unionists and
other violence, a view he repeated in his third debate with Republican opponent John McCain. (Reuters)