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Enrique Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 11:35 AM
Original message
Business community praises "courageous" Colombia trade deal
maybe the labor community will like the deal as well, I haven't seen any comment yet...

Read more:

WASHINGTON (AP) After weeks of intense negotiations, the U.S. and Colombia have reached a deal on a free trade pact that the Obama administration says is vital to the president's economic agenda.

A senior administration official said the agreement came together after the Colombians agreed to offer greater protections for workers and union leaders. The final agreement will boost U.S. exports to Colombia by $1 billion per year and could support thousands of American jobs.


News of the deal won praise from the business community.

Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, applauded Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for their "courage and pragmatism" in striking the accord.

"This proves the United States can still lead on trade," Donohue said. "The Chamber will work closely with the White House and Congress to secure approval of the three pending free trade agreements in the weeks ahead."

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Lasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 11:40 AM
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1. Maybe Congress will have enough sense to block these trade agreements.
I don't agree with the president's economic agenda - or that of the Chamber of Commerce.
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DJ13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 11:46 AM
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2. It doesnt take courage to screw over US workers
They have lots of practice, its like second nature to them now.
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Enrique Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 11:49 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. being a labor leader in Colombia
that's courage.

But who knows, maybe this deal will improve that situation. We'll see...
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FreakinDJ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 11:49 AM
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4. There goes another Million or so American Jobs
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Cali_Democrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 11:50 AM
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5. Why is this Administration pursuing failed free trade policies?
Are they that beholden to Corporate America?

Free trade is all about the exporting of jobs to countries that produce the same goods at slave labor wages. Corporate America loves it when US jobs go to peasants in sweatshops because they get to pay them peanuts.

What's funny is how the article touts US exports rising, but mentions nothing about the imports.
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Enrique Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 11:53 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. also no hint of any opposition
And also no hint of any downsides. According to the article, the deal is all win. Which should strike some readers as odd. Why would it be "courageous" if absolutely no one opposes it, and there are no downsides?
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 12:03 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Some earlier, I don't know now
Edited on Wed Apr-06-11 12:05 PM by Armstead
One of the big sticking points was lack of protection of workers and unions in Columbia.

This new deal supposedly addresses those concerns. Maybe it does, maybe it's just lipstick on a pig. Dunno.
Six Democratic Representatives Set Benchmarks for U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
March 21, 2011

Pushing back against Republican-led efforts to force a vote this spring on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, six Democratic representatives, led by Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), sent a letter to President Obama on March 17 outlining benchmarks that Colombia should meet before Congress takes up the pact. The letter and benchmarks reject the argument made by pro-FTA supporters that Colombia has made adequate progress in addressing violence against trade unionists and human rights defenders, impunity, and worker rights violations.

In the cover letter, Representatives McGovern, George Miller (D-CA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Mike Michaud (D-ME), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA) say that Colombia has not significantly improved its human rights record, proposing that the U.S. should take this opportunity to secure progress before approving an agreement. As Representative Michaud, Chairman of the House Trade Working Group, announced: "Sending up the trade agreement with Colombia, when that country is the world's most dangerous country for trade unionists, would signal to the world that this Administration is not serious about human rights or committed to even the most basic worker protections. The U.S. must hold our allies to the highest standard of human rights, and our nation's trade policies must reflect that principle."
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Enrique Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 04:34 PM
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8. Business Roundtable likes it /

Washington Business Roundtable today released the following statement:

Todays announcement that the United States and Colombia have reached an agreement on outstanding issues in their trade pact clears the way to move all pending FTAs forward. The Administration and Congress now need to agree on a plan to pass the Colombia, South Korea and Panama FTAs as soon as possible.

American companies and workers need trade agreements that promote fairness and allow the United States to compete successfully in world markets. Pending FTAs with South Korea, Colombia and Panama will ensure these countries are held to their promises to open their markets to American goods and services. These agreements will add to the more than 38 million jobs that depend on trade.

Business Roundtable (BRT) is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies with nearly $6 trillion in annual revenues and more than 13 million employees. BRT member companies comprise nearly a third of the total value of the U.S. stock market and invest more than $114 billion annually in research and development nearly half of all private U.S. R&D spending. Our companies pay more than $179 billion in dividends to shareholders.

BRT companies give nearly $9 billion a year in combined charitable contributions.

Business Roundtable companies provide health care coverage to more than 35 million employees, retirees, and their families.
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Enrique Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 11:55 AM
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9. AFL-CIO isn't buying it /

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement today on the Obama administrations intention to send a U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement to Congress for a vote.

We are deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has signaled that it will move forward to submit the proposed U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement to Congress for a vote in the near future. In our view, the situation in Colombia remains unacceptably violent for trade unionists, as well as for human rights defenders and other vulnerable populations. In addition, Colombian workers face enormous and indefensible legal and practical hurdles in exercising their rights to organize unions and bargain collectively.

We appreciate the efforts of the Obama administration to negotiate a separate Action Plan with the Colombian government to address some of the concerns we have raised over many years with respect to human and labor rights for workers, murders of trade unionists, and impunity for the perpetrators of violence. We understand that the proposed Action Plan lays out some important benchmarks in terms of increasing the level of protection for workers, addressing some flaws in the labor code, and improving enforcement of labor laws.

However, the Action Plan does not go nearly far enough in laying out concrete benchmarks for progress in the areas of violence and impunity, nor does it address many of the ways in which Colombian labor law falls short of international standards. There is no guarantee that the terms of it will in fact lead to a reduction in violence, and no backup plan to delay implementation if the violence and impunity continue. Furthermore, the Action Plan is a stand-alone agreement, not connected to the benefits conferred in the trade agreement. Once the trade agreement is ratified by Congress and implemented, the U.S. government will have no leverage whatsoever to enforce its terms in the event that the terms are not implemented as agreed.

The Colombian government has failed in enforcing the rule of law and protecting the safety of its citizens as they exercise their internationally recognized human rights to form unions and bargain collectively. These problems are deeply ingrained and longstanding, and they cannot be solved by commitments on a piece of paper. Concrete progress on the ground with respect to violence, impunity, and labor law reform needs to be demonstrated over a sustained period of time.

Colombia remains the most deadly nation in the world in which to be a trade unionist. In the past 25 years, more than 2,850 trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia. Last year alone, 51 trade unionists were murdered, an increase over 2009. Six trade unionists have been murdered so far this year, including two in the past week. The conviction rate for union murders and other violence is in the single digits, and even where prosecutions have occurred, many perpetrators have been charged in absentia and are still on the loose. Union density in Colombia is below 5 percent, and even fewer workers can exercise their right to bargain collectively. We have no doubt that if 51 CEOs had been murdered in Colombia last year, this deal would be on a very slow track indeed.

We are consulting closely with our union counterparts in Colombia and will continue to consult with the Obama administration about the terms of the Action Plan and its implementation. But, on the basis of the information provided to us at this time, we remain strongly opposed to the Colombia trade agreement.
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