September 16, 2011- Op-eds - Approving Trade Deals Would Produce Jobs

Another effort that seems to have strong support and where we can have the biggest effect on American jobs in the shortest amount of time would be to pass the three pending free-trade agreements — with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. In today’s global marketplace, it is essential that we make every reasonable effort to open foreign markets to American products.

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September 12, 2011- News Clips - Kirk Working With Senate on Trade Bills

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Monday talks on passing free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are focused on the Senate, where the administration hopes to renew funding for a job-retraining program. The timing of any votes on the three trade pacts will depend on how soon a deal can be reached to pass the retraining program, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, he said.

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The U.S. Chamber is stepping up its efforts to ensure that pending trade bills, including a controversial bill to provide assistance to American workers displaced by trade, pass Congress in the coming weeks. “We’re going to do everything we can to get these deals done in the next six to eight weeks,” said John Murphy, U.S. Chamber vice president for International Affairs, at a briefing for reporters on September 8. Congressional approval of pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, South Korea and Panama is the cornerstone of the Chamber’s six-part plan to create jobs.

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US President Barack Obama was optimistic Monday about the chances that free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama may be ratified by the US Congress 'before the end of the year.' Obama told a small group of news agencies including the German Press Agency dpa at the White House that he thinks there are enough votes in both houses of Congress for the agreements to pass.

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Trade Representative Ron Kirk said on Monday he was hopeful the Congress would pass long-delayed trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia before the United States hosts an annual summit meeting for Asia-Pacific leaders in November. "Our goal has always been to get them done as soon as possible and that hasn't changed," Kirk told reporters after remarks to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called Tuesday for an early conclusion of free trade talks with South Korea, hopefully by year's end, saying that a pact would greatly help strengthen commercial ties between the two countries. In a written interview with Yonhap News Agency ahead of his official visit to South Korea this week, Santos also said that Bogota hopes to upgrade its relations with Seoul to a "comprehensive and cooperative partnership" as the two nations will mark the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties next year.

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Alabama's agriculture commissioner today called on the federal government to ratify three free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia to help boost trade and create thousands of jobs in the state. John McMillan, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, held a press conference at downtown Birmingham's Innovation Depot urging movement on the trade agreements.

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Japanese and Colombian leaders agreed Monday to explore the possibility of signing a free trade agreement…. In an attempt to strengthen economic ties, the two countries signed a bilateral treaty aimed at promoting and protecting private investment and agreed to launch a joint FTA study, Noda told reporters after the meeting.

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is visiting Miami to talk about jobs and how international trade agreements impact the economy. Miami-Dade County officials say Vilsack is touring the Port of Miami on Saturday. Joining the agriculture chief will be local business and farm leaders. Officials say he will also talk about how the port and trade can create jobs in Florida. Vilsack is also expected to discuss the status of free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

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September 11, 2011- Op-eds - Free Trade Will Spur Job Growth

Right now the White House is sitting on three free trade agreements: Panama, Columbia and South Korea. It is estimated that by pursuing these agreements we wouldcreate up to 250,000 jobs, and many of those would be right here in southwest Missouri. Jobs would be created as our companies are allowed to compete....Fourteen million Americans are out of work. Four million have been out of work for over a year. We don't have time to wait. We need to make the U.S. the best place in the world to run a business again. And by pursuing these free trade agreements and other common-sense solutions for our job creators we will be on the right track.

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September 11, 2011- Op-eds - A Tale of Two Trade Agreements

Some may take it as a sign of the apocalypse, but Gov. Rick Scott and President Barack Obama agree on a major issue facing the nation. They both want Congress to approve free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. But, of course, there are differences over how those agreements should be shaped, reflecting the reason why the pending agreements have languished in Washington while the Democrats and Republicans squabbled over the details. Approval of the agreements — for which Obama called in his speech on Thursday night — could provide a big economic boost for Florida.

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Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan added his voice Friday to those pushing President Barack Obama and Congress to pass free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. "We need the opportunity to open up more trade," said McMillan, who spoke in the doorway of a port warehouse filled with rolls of fluff pulp made by Georgia-Pacific LLC in Monroe County. The pulp, used as absorbent filling in diapers and similar products, is one example of an agricultural product exported from Alabama. McMillan said he believedAlabama also had an opportunity to sell more poultry, beef and peanuts to the three countries.

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September 10, 2011- News Clips - U.S. Sen. Kirk Sees Good in Obama’s Job Bill

Kirk talked about the American Jobs Act that President Barack Obama announced Thursday….Free trade would benefit Illinois farmers raising cattle for beef, said Kirk, because the agreement would open U.S. beef sales in South Korea where it is now banned. Because Colombia already has agreements with Canada, free trade with the country would also benefit Illinois corn farmers, said Kirk. "It will really help the marketing of U.S. corn," he said.

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In job-starved Florida, President Barack Obama's nationally televised address to Congress sparked renewed hope on Friday that a burst of federal spending and tax incentives would prompt companies to begin hiring again. Business leaders welcomed Obama's proposal to extend and expand a cut in payroll taxes and to dispense tax credits for hiring the unemployed. They were especially enthused about his call to ratify long-awaited trade pacts with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, which could expand Florida's share of the world market.

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“I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with the three proud words: Made in America,” Obama said. As a major exporting hub and an area of the economy that has thrived during the recession, exporters in South Florida could benefit from passage of these trade agreements, said J. Antonio Villamil, dean of the St. Thomas University    business school. In addition, with an unemployment rate of 11.3 percent in July, South Florida needs jobs. For those exporting to Colombia and Panama, it would be a net plus, as most goods from those countries are already imported duty-free, Villamil added. Passage of the trade agreements could also mean significant job growth in the Sunshine State.

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September 8, 2011- Editorials - Separate the Good Ideas from Politics

He also called on Congress to pass free-trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. All three ideas are solid and should be pursued -- right now, to repeat the president's rhetorical refrain.

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September 9, 2011- News Clips - Small Steps Taken on Taken on Trade Agreements

Wheat growers and other agricultural producers continue to press for immediate enactment of the agreements, particularly as other countries implement their own free trade measures.

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September 8, 2011- News Clips - Obama: 'Clear the Way' for Trade Pacts

"Now it's time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama, Colombia and South Korea -- while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition," Obama said in a speech to Congress on jobs and the U.S. economy.

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A top U.S. business group on Thursday said it expected President Barack Obama and Congress to work together to approve three long-delayed free trade agreements in the next six to eight weeks.

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September 8, 2011- News Clips - Free-Trade Agreements Topping Jobs Agendas

President Obama is expected to call for, once again, the passage of three pending free-trade agreements in Thursday night's speech to Congress, a move likely to evoke more grumbling from Republicans. The White House and some congressional lawmakers see eye-to-eye on the trade deals with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, yet they are unable to agree on the process to get the job done.

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September 8, 2011- Editorials - Ratify Trade Agreements

President Obama likely will be met with considerable GOP resistance when he presents his jobs plan to a joint session of Congress tonight — especially if it involves spending more money. But one action that he and Republicans should agree on is finalizing trade deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

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September 7, 2011- Op-eds - Focus Must Be On Job Creators

We should also level the playing field with overseas competitors by approving the free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that have been languishing on the president’s desk. These pacts would help create tens of thousands of jobs here by vastly expanding the market for U.S. goods.

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The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to renew a long-standing program that allows about 130 developing countries to export thousands of goods to the United States without paying duties. House Speaker John Boehner said he hoped President Barack Obama would build on the success of passing the trade bill by submitting three long-delayed free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea to Congress for a vote.

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September 8, 2011- Op-eds - President Late On Free-Trade Pacts

There is no denying the positive impact that our long-delayed trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea would have on our economy.  They would add around $14 billion to our economy, and increase exports by over $12 billion annually.  According to the White House, the Korea trade deal alone would create 70,000 American jobs.   The White House understands the economic benefits that would come from enactment of these agreements.  Yet while millions of Americans suffer in a weak recovery with stalled job growth, the President inexplicably sits on them. 

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September 7, 2011- News Clips - House Vote Could Move Stalled Trade Agenda

A House vote Wednesday to extend an expired trade program for the world's poorer countries lays the groundwork for what could be more politically important consideration of three free trade agreements that both the White House and congressional Republicans say could help put Americans back to work.

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Nearly a dozen Republican senators on Wednesday urged President Barack Obama to quickly send Congress three long-delayed trade deals that they said would help put Americans back to work. "If the president really cares about jobs, he will send up the agreements immediately," Senator Rob Portman told reporters, referring to deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia signed more than four years ago.

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September 7, 2011- News Clips - Ron Kirk Responds to Free Trade Skeptics

As President Obama's chief trade adviser and negotiator, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk also has the tricky task of promoting free trade at a time when soaring unemployment has Americans anxious to protect U.S. markets. The challenge doesn't rattle Kirk, who empathizes with public suspicion -- even arguing that "people have reason to be angry" over weak enforcement and jobs lost overseas -- but insists that global trade done right can add thousands of American jobs.

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September 5, 2011- Editorials - Politics on Trade Trumps Common Sense

Only in today’s bitterly partisan atmosphere in Washington could this happen: A job-creating bill with plenty of support from Republicans and Democrats remains in limbo because the two sides can’t agree on a procedural matter involving a related issue. Is there no sign of intelligent life inside the Beltway? We are referring, of course, to the three stalled free trade agreements between the United States and Colombia, Panama and South Korea. 

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According to the White House, President Obama has been huddling with advisers on a jobs plan he’ll present to Congress this week. One thing he could do immediately is finalize the free-trade deals with Colombia, South Korea and Panama that have been languishing on his desk.

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September 4, 2011- Op-eds - Time to Act on Free-Trade Agreements

The long-pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea may finally appear soon before Congress for approval. But few things in Washington are certain, so free trade advocates are advised to take nothing for granted.

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