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| 11/11/2008 12:00:00 AM

Stalled U.S.-Colombia Trade Pact Seen as Early Test of Obama’s Approach

Nov 11 -- With global financial markets in turmoil and several trade deals on ice, labor unions and business groups are trying to decipher how President-elect Obama and an expanded Democratic majority in Congress will approach international trade policy, and are eyeing the U.S.-Colombia trade pact as an early indicator.

President Bush wants to see action on the deal, which has been hamstrung due to Democratic concerns over violence against union activists in the South American country, in a lame-duck session next week. With Democrats seeking to advance an economic stimulus package that the White House has thus far resisted, the deal could be a bargaining chip.

But unions and other skeptics of trade liberalization are arguing that the election results were a clear signal that the public is opposed to further trade agreements, and Democratic action on the Colombia deal would prompt a backlash from organized labor and other groups, which would be unhelpful, to say the least, to Obama’s political honeymoon.

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