Entries in Trade (6)


Obama Says US-Colombia Free Trade Deal a Win-Win

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(CARTAGENA, Colombia) -- President Obama announced on Sunday that a free trade deal with Colombia will be fully enforced next month, declaring the agreement a win-win for both countries.

“We’re moving ahead with our landmark trade agreement,” Obama announced, standing alongside Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the Summit of the Americas.

The announcement, which was largely expected, comes after Colombia enacted a series of protections for workers and labor unions.

“Given the actions taken by President Santos and the Colombian legislature I can announce that the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will enter into force next month on May 15,” Obama said at a joint press conference with Santos.

“This agreement is a win for both our countries,” Obama said.  “It’s a win for the United States by increasing our exports by more than $1 billion, supporting thousands of U.S. jobs and helping to achieve my goal of doubling U.S. exports.  It’s a win for Colombia by giving you even greater access to the largest market for your exports: the United States of America.”

Obama also noted that “this agreement is a win for our workers and environment because of the strong protections it has for both, commitments that we are going to fulfill.”

The president spent the weekend at the summit touting economic growth in the region and highlighting his interest in Latin America in an election-year appeal to Latino voters back home.

U.S. unions, however, have opposed the trade pact, citing Colombia’s record of violence against labor leaders.  AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka called the announcement on Sunday “deeply disappointing and troubling.”

“The politics of Obama’s action with this trade deal are totally inexplicable given this is not just another NAFTA, which polling shows most American despise, but one with the country that is globally notorious for murdering unionists and a deal that was passionately despised by the very union voters on whom Obama will rely to win key swing states and volunteer for the vaunted Obama campaign ground game,” Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global trade Watch, said in a written statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Pressures China Over Access to Rare Earth Minerals

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Tuesday stepped up efforts to enforce U.S. trade rights with China, announcing new plans to challenge China’s export limits on rare earth and other minerals key to high-tech manufacturing.

“We want our companies building those products right here in America. But to do that, American manufacturers need to have access to rare earth materials which China supplies,” the president said at the White House Rose Garden.

“Now, if China would simply let the market work on its own, we’d have no objections. But their policies currently are preventing that from happening. And they go against the very rules that China agreed to follow,” he said.

In an effort to level the playing field, the United States, Japan and the European Union are pressing the World Trade Organization to force China to ease its restraints on exports of rare earth, which is crucial to the production of hybrid batteries, wind turbines and cellphones.

The president cast the move as part of his broader effort to enforce global trade rules.

“Our competitors should be on notice: You will not get away with skirting the rules,” he said. “When we can, we will rally support from our allies. And when it makes sense to act on our own, we will.”

The White House action comes as the president faces election-year attacks from his Republican rivals for not being tough enough on Beijing. While the administration prefers dialogue to tackle trade issues, the president made clear Tuesday that “when it is necessary, I will take action if our workers and our businesses are being subjected to unfair practices.”

The administration denied politics were involved in Tuesday’s announcement.

“The fact is we’ve been at this for three years because it’s the right thing to do,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US, Canada Announce New Border Agreement

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The United States and Canada Wednesday announced new border security, trade and regulatory agreements intended to boost economic growth and job creation in both countries.

“Put simply, we’re going to make it easier to conduct the trade and travel that creates jobs, and we’re going to make it harder for those who would do us harm and threaten our security,” President Obama said following a bilateral meeting at the White House with Prime Minster Stephen Harper of Canada.

“Some 90 percent of all our trade -- more than a billion dollars in trade every single day -- passes through our roads, our bridges and our ports.  But because of old systems and heavy congestion, it still takes too many products too long to cross our borders. And for every business, either Canadian or American, time is money,” Obama said.

The president said plans to cut red tape and harmonize regulations between the U.S. and Canada will help “strike a better balance with sensible regulations that unleash trade and job creation, while still protecting public health and safety.”

Harper hailed the deals as the most significant steps forward in Canada-U.S. cooperation since the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“These agreements create a new, modern order for a new century,” Harper said.

Canada and the U.S. have the largest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world. Total trade and investment between the United States and Canada topped $1.1 trillion in 2010.

As Canadian reporters noted earlier Wednesday, while the deals have received significant media coverage in Canada, they have gone largely unnoticed in the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Will Currency Manipulation Bill Ignite Trade War with China?

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With the Senate poised to pass legislation Tuesday to coerce China to reevaluate its currency, speculation abounds as to whether the bill is an effective way to deal with China’s currency manipulation.

The bill does not specifically mention China, but it makes it easier for the Treasury Department to label a country’s currency misaligned, allowing it to impose tariffs on Chinese imports to make up for the deflated price.

It has bipartisan support in the Senate, but members of both parties are skeptical of the legislation in the House of Representatives as well as in the White House.

“For the Congress of the United States to pass legislation to force the Chinese to do what is arguably very difficult to do I think is wrong, it’s dangerous,” House Speaker John Boehner said. “You could start a trade war.”

And while President Obama said China has been “gaming the trading system to its advantage,” he cautioned that the Senate bill may violate international trade laws.

“My main whatever tools we put in place, let’s make sure that these are tools that can actually work, that they’re consistent with our international treaties and obligations,” Obama said.  “I don’t want a situation where we’re just passing laws that are symbolic, knowing that they’re probably not going to be upheld by the World Trade Organization.”

Supporters of the legislation claim that it will pressure China into raising the value of its currency, making American products more competitively priced with Chinese goods, which would increase demand for American exports. This increase in exports would lead to more jobs, particularly manufacturing, which have been disproportionately affected by the recession.

“We can’t force China’s central bank to immediately raise the value of their currency, but we could make the costs of not doing that so high that China has no choice,” said Scott Paul, the executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

Paul said that in order for America to pull out of the recession, it was “essential” for the United States to pressure China into allowing its currency, known as the yuan, to appreciate.

But opponents of the bill point out that trying to force China to reevaluate its currency could anger the Asian nation and inspire China to retaliate by imposing duties on U.S. imports or slowing the appreciation of its currency.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Fails to Convince South Korea to Open Markets to US

Photo Courtesy - Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- President Obama and his trade negotiators failed to convince their South Korean counterparts to expand market access for American automobiles and beef Thursday, sinking hopes that President Obama would leave Seoul with the free trade agreement his administration has pursued so vigorously.

President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak acknowledged the bottleneck at a joint press conference.  Both leaders tried to spin the impasse.

President Lee said that he and President Obama have agreed to give South Korean trade minister Kim Jong-hoon and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk “more time so that they can finalize the technical issues.  And President Obama and I will continue to work together so that we can have a mutually acceptable agreement at the earliest possible date.”

After meeting with President Lee in June, President Obama seemed to hope the agreement would be close to done by now, which, sources said, it is not.  “I want to make sure that everything is lined up properly by the time that I visit Korea in November,” President Obama said then.  “And then in the few months that follow that, I intend to present it to Congress.”

The failure to reach an agreement was not unexpected -- negotiators didn’t even focus on beef exports, because the disagreements on that point are seemingly irreconcilable at this time.  Still, the news is a disappointment for President Obama and his team, who say an agreement would increase the export of American goods to South Korea by approximately $10 billion, with billions more in services, in turn supporting more than 70,000 jobs in the U.S.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Public Support Mixed Over Trade with South Korea, China

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – Americans have mixed emotions when it comes to international trade, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Results show that Americans are skeptical over World Trade Organization policies and trade agreements such as NAFTA. Thirty-five percent believe such agreements are good for the U.S., while 44 percent disagree.

It may boil down to what countries the U.S. does business with. While most Americans agreed that trade with Canada, Japan and European Union countries would benefit the U.S., the poll showed public support over trade with South Korea and China is mixed.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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