GOP leader sees momentum for FTAs passage
Trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that have languished in Congress for three years could be ratified during the first six months of the new legislative session, Rep. Kevin Brady, a deputy GOP whip and member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said last week.
The Obama administration's successful renegotiation of several sticking points in the South Korea free trade pact, especially with regard to access for U.S. auto manufacturers and service industries, indicates a new willingness on the president's part to advance a comprehensive trade agenda, and the new Republican majority in the House is willing to help that effort, the Texas conservative said.
He told an audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that President Obama should send the three trade deals to Congress as a package and spend some political capital to get them approved.
The agreements open markets for U.S. companies and create jobs at home, while also supporting important foreign policy objectives in those countries, Brady added.
Congress neglected trade reforms during the past four years, but Republicans will work hard now to promote export opportunities, reduce impediments to trade and fight protectionism both here and abroad, he said.
'The aggressive efforts among our trading partners to build closer economic ties among themselves, in particular through trade agreements that exclude us, is also a call to action,' Brady said. 'The administration and Congress need to move beyond the rhetoric and come together on a comprehensive trade agenda' that expands opportunities to create exports and jobs,' he said.
Brady, who will chair the Ways and Means subcommittee on trade in January, said it is important for the business community to urge the administration to work with Congress to implement pro-trade policies and 'help tell the story that strong economic engagement with other countries is important to American workers and consumers.' ' Eric Kulisch