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Senators raise FTA pressure on White House

Senators raise FTA pressure on White House

   A group of 44 Republican senators on Monday said they would block any commerce secretary nomination and other trade-related nominees unless the White House submitted all three pending U.S. free trade agreements to Congress for ratification.

   The Obama administration has said it's ready to have the South Korea trade deal ratified, but needs more time to analyze the others with Colombia and Panama.

   'So important are these deals to our economy and our relations with these key allies in Latin America that, until the president submits both agreements to Congress for approval and commits to signing implementing legislation into law, we will use all the tools at our disposal to force action, including withholding support for any nominee for commerce secretary and any trade-related nominees,' said the senators in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

   Last week, President Obama nominated his current Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to be ambassador to China.

   The letter was initiated by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a former U.S. trade representative during the George W. Bush administration, and further signed by other leading senators, such as Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican Whip Jon Kyl, and Orrin Hatch, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

   'As a result of the administration's failure to act on these agreements, American companies and their workers are losing market share and are being denied valuable business opportunities,' the senators warned. 'At the same time, Colombia and Panama are continuing to expand their trading partnerships elsewhere, signing bilateral free trade agreements with the European Union, Canada and other countries which are eager to move into these large markets at the expense of U.S. workers.'

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