the wall street journal

US Secy Locke: Colombia Trade Pact Not Likely Ratified In '09

Sept 30--The U.S. Congress won't likely ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia this year as it's currently focusing on health care reform and energy-related legislation, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said Tuesday.

"It's pretty doubtful" that the pact will be ratified this year, although the Obama administration is pushing forward with this agreement and similar ones with South Korea and Panama, the secretary said, noting that U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is heading up the effort to conclude the trade deals.

Speaking to reporters in Santiago on the sidelines of the third Americas Competitiveness Forum, Locke said the U.S. aims to strenghten its trade ties with Latin America as the U.S. and Latin economies have greatly benefitted from existing ties.

"It's in everyone's economic interest to have trade agreements and lower tariff barriers," Locke said. He added that President Barack Obama has indicated the U.S. is seeking an equal partnership with the countries in the region.

One of the topics covered in the forum was the threat of protectionism and how it can affect open economies. Many economies in Latin America are heavily dependent on their exports, which can be damaged by protectionism.

Protectionism "can only lead to retaliation and eventually to trade wars, Locke said.

When queried whether a recent move by the Obama administration to raise a tariff on tire imports from China could be seen as a retaliation that could lead to a trade war, Locke said the U.S. was only enforcing the terms of its trade agreement with China.
Read more here.
Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.