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Agreement clears path for extended trade pacts

Agreement clears path for extended trade pacts

U.S. Congressional negotiators Tuesday reached an agreement that clears the way for an eight-month extension of trade agreements for Peru, Colombia and Panama.

   Previous trade agreements were originally extended in December, allowing trade with Peru and Colombia to continue unchanged until Congress took up new bilateral trade agreements. Opponents of new trade agreements expressed opposition until a tentative agreement on changes was reach in May. That agreement required pending free trade pacts to comply with the U.S. government’s more stringent labor rules rather than those of the International Labor Organization.

   “I am pleased that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, along with the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees, have finalized formal text reflecting the agreement of May 10,” said U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab. “I want to express my appreciation to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman (Charles) Rangel, ranking member (Jim) McCrery, Senate Finance Committee Chairman (Max) Baucus, and Sen. (Charles) Grassley for their diligent work in finalizing this bipartisan agreement. I now look forward to Congressional action on the Peru agreement in July, and the agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea as soon as possible.”

   The time frame for the agreement was limited in the event of approval for separate bilateral agreements with Peru and Colombia later this year.

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