Richmond Times-Dispatch

Free Trade: Helping Allies

Aug 24--Throughout the presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama told voters that he would work to mend America's frayed relationships with our allies. He argued that the administration of George W. Bush had pursued a unilateral, arrogant foreign policy that alienated U.S. allies from Europe to Latin America.

24 de agosto de 2009

Even those who might disagree with Obama's rhetoric would probably concede that the new president has worked to smooth the ruffled feathers of leaders who are reflexively skeptical of U.S. foreign policy. But in one crucial area of foreign relations, Obama has been an abject failure -- especially when judged by his goal of treating our allies with respect and dignity. The issue is trade.

For many nations, trade is the dominant aspect of their relations with the U.S. They know that if they want to be fully incorporated into the global economy, they must be able to trade with the world's wealthiest market. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has largely ignored the interests of these countries.

Colombia may be the most glaring example. A staunch ally of the U.S. in a region increasingly filled with anti-American despots like Hugo Chavez, the nation has been eager to ensure increased trade with us for years to come. A free trade agreement was negotiated and finished two years ago. Sadly, the plan has languished in Congress ever since, as Democratic leaders -- in yet another sop to short-sighted union bosses -- have refused to bring it to a vote. The Colombian government, which invested considerable political capital in the deal, has been left holding a -- so far-- empty bag.
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