Max Baucus, chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, called on
Congress to debate and approve a free trade agreement with Panama first,
before discussing a treaty with Colombia.
Baucus asked to suspend the discussion about the Colombian free trade agreement during the confirmation hearing of Ron Kirk, appointed by President Barack Obama as director of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
“We must begin with Panamá,” the Senator said, whose committee is the first to deal with trade agreements before they are discussed in a plenary session of the senate. “It’s the agreement that is better prepared for debate and is the agreement that will receive most support.”
The treaty with Colombia should be subjected to “careful analysis, consideration and compromise” before being approved.
“We must find a way to address the important and real concerns about labor violence in Colombia,” Baucus added.
The free trade agreement between the U.S. and Colombia already has been signed by former U.S. President George W. Bush, but is pending approval by Congress, who is objecting the human rights situation for unionists in Colombia. The Colombian Government has been lobbying extensively to see the treaty approved, but finds the obstruction of the Democrat majority in Congress.