The Obama administration has reportedly decided not to submit legislation to implement pending free trade agreements (FTA) with Korea, Colombia, and Panama before the August 6 start of the month-long congressional summer recess. With the White House still preoccupied with negotiations on the federal debt limit, it also has not been able to reach an agreement with Republican leaders on how to move an extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program along with the FTAs.  U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said this week that administration officials are “working so that we can very quickly announce a process on how we will be able to move that forward,”  but he did not discuss reports of a delay in the FTA bill.

A possible complication to the implementation of the Korea FTA has developed in Seoul, where the main opposition party is insisting that the government renegotiate the agreement to incorporate ten specific changes.  The ruling party has a sufficient majority to pass the FTA without support from the opposition, but The Wall Street Journal notes that “with elections coming up next year, ruling lawmakers would risk upsetting opposition politicians and voters by acting unilaterally.”

 

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