U.S. President Barack Obama will face opposition from his democratic colleagues if he asks Congress to approve a free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia.
“I simply do not want to become wrapped up in this agreement battle that prolongs failed policies,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown in a speech he gave to George Washington University.
While campaigning for the presidency, Obama spoke firmly against a free trade agreement with Colombia, arguing that this country has done little to reduce the number of murders of labor unionists and has not brought the murderers to justice.
But during the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago this past weekend, Obama asked U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Kirk to start talks with Colombia about approving the agreement.
Sen. Brown, who was at the forefront of many FTA oppositions during the Bush presidency, said an FTA with Colombia would be an unnecessary distraction away from more important matters, like fixing the U.S. economy and reworking the health care system.
However, Brown also predicted Obama would not have trouble getting Congress to approve the agreement. He also pointed out that Obama would not suffer any great political loss over the agreement’s approval, though it would be a disappointment for his followers that oppose free trade agreements.
But Lori Wallach, director of the Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said it is doubtful that Congress will take on this matter until Colombia manages to demonstrate that it has left its violent history behind and has increased its criminal prosecutions.