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| 2/16/2010 12:00:00 AM

Time to trade

Feb 16--In recent days, it has sometimes looked as if the political logjam over trade might finally be about to break. In a State of the Union address centered on job creation, President Obama (...) spoke encouragingly about "strengthening" trade relations with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.

Could it be that the president was finally ready to take on labor unions and other Democratic interest groups that have been blocking them? The situation appeared even more hopeful on Wednesday: Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner responded "absolutely" when a member of Congress asked whether the administration wanted to get them through by year's end.

Or so it seemed. Actually, the secretary had been misinterpreted because of some cross talk at the hearing, as his department quickly explained in a news release afterward. The Obama administration's position remains what it was: It wants to adjust the deals, in cooperation with Capitol Hill, and "move forward" with them, but there's no deadline. And so, despite the promising talk, the future of the FTAs remains uncertain. Panama's might still come to a vote this year, which would be good, but it is the smallest and least controversial of the three. A failure to pass the Colombia and Korea agreements would be bad news for American companies and American workers.
 
Read more here.
 
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