The top US trade envoy on Tuesday said he has received more than 500 comments from the public on pending free-trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea.
The two free-trade agreements (FTAs) were signed several years ago under the George W. Bush administration but remain unratified amid controversy. President Barack Obama has pledged his commitment to the pacts.
US Trade Representative Ron Kirk welcomed the “strong response” to his request for public comment on the agreements, citing the Obama administration’s focus on providing transparency and creating an open dialogue on trade issues.
“We will carefully review the comments received to help us determine how best to move forward with these FTAs,” Kirk said in a statement, referring to continuing discussions with the US Congress, stakeholders and the relevant trading partners.
The USTR in late July invited the comments, which were due by noon Tuesday. Kirk did not disclose the contents of the comments received.
The free-trade pact with Colombia, signed in 2006, has been held up in the US Congress by Democrats concerned about the alleged persecution of labor union members in Colombia and concerns over human rights more generally.
Obama has instructed Kirk to work closely with Colombian President Alavaro Uribe and expressed confidence that “ultimately” a deal will be struck to overcome difficulties.
Colombia’s Congress approved the agreement and a protocol of amendment in 2007.
Last year Colombia was the third largest US export market in South America in 2008, following Brazil and free-trade partner Chile.