Japan and Colombia signed an agreement for the protection of investments and began analyzing an accord to reduce barriers to trade. The agreement was signed by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during a trip to Japan, according to a statement today on the presidential website. He will travel to South Korea tomorrow to discuss a free-trade accord with the Asian country.

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A senior Republican lawmaker said he was optimistic the U.S. Congress would pass three long-delayed trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia "very soon". Representative Kevin Brady said his understanding was the White House, Senate leaders and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner have agreed on a "very tight process" for moving the trade deals and a separate bill to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance."

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September 14, 2011- Op-eds - First-Hand Benefits of Free Trade

This is why it is so critically important for the South Korea, Panama and Colombia free-trade agreements to pass. With almost 14 million Americans out of work we can no longer allow these agreements to languish as other regions continue to beat us to the market. It’s been two-and-a-half months since the European Union began trading with South Korea and almost one month since Canada signed an agreement with Colombia. If the United States doesn’t follow suit and lower tariffs for American goods and services, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates we may lose nearly 400,000 jobs and $40 billion in export sales in these two countries alone.

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September 13, 2011- Op-eds - TAA Must Be Renewed Alongside Trade Pacts

Trade has been a significant driver of economic growth, and expanding exports is important for job creation, but trade also comes with painful dislocations that threaten the livelihoods of many workers and their families. This is why Congress and the White House must ensure that the passage of the three pending free-trade agreements is accompanied by the renewal of the May 2009 Trade Adjustment Assistance package, which provides all workers with these essential services they need to get back on their feet.

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September 19, 2011- Editorials - Free Trade: Progress

During the recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced they would hold votes on crucial trade agreements. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor quite properly said he would not hesitate to schedule votes when the agreements officially arrive in Congress. The soybean editorial above indicates the value of global trade. Free trade pacts between the U.S. and South Korea, Colombia and Panama have languished for many months. Unionists opposed the deal with Colombia with unenlightened vigor.

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September 18, 2011- Editorials - Keep Pushing Trade Agreements

Good for Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., for pushing for the approval of trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. The agreements were reached during the Bush administration but have been held up by labor concerns and by the GOP’s defunding of a program that helps workers and companies negatively affected by trade deals.

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September 17, 2011- Editorials - Deal Us In

 Despite the nonstop, confidence-deflating partisanship on Capitol Hill, Congress may be ready to settle one of its long-standing differences and — surprise! — do something that helps put America back to work. Free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are only one small compromise away from winning approval. Let's get it done. These deals have languished for years, costing U.S. consumers and robbing U.S. businesses of opportunities to grow.

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September 15, 2011- Editorials - Free Trade is Good Business for State

This is why we join Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan in his call for President Barack Obama and Congress to approve free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. As a port city, Mobile stands to benefit from these pacts, which enjoy bipartisan support. Millions of Americans need jobs, and free trade could provide some of them. It’s estimated that the trade agreements,negotiated during the Bush administration, would create tens of thousands of jobs. What’s more, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the pacts would protect 380,000 other jobs that America can’t afford to lose.

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In his State of the Union address last year, Obama appealed for congressional approval of the trade deals with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. He repeated his call for these pacts in this year’s State of the Union. And he did it once again last week. “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,” said Obama in his latest high-profile speech. “If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers.” This makes sense. One study shows that for every $1 billion in new exports, the U.S. economy gains 6,000 jobs. So obviously Congress should enact these agreements “right away.”

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September 19, 2011- Op-eds - Idling U.S. Job Engine Needs Acute Overhaul

We also need to create a good environment for trade. We have free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia that have been pending for three years. Together, they reduce tariffs on the order of 85 percent and represent more than $13 billion in export opportunities for American businesses, farmers and ranchers every year. Most importantly, they represent more than a quarter of a million American jobs. The administration needs to bring those agreements to the Senate and House for ratification. It’s time we take them from pending to passed.

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September 18, 2011- Op-eds - Tech Provides Map for Nation’s Future

Fourth, once we develop the best technology here at home, we need to sell it to the rest of the world. We need to expand markets for American technology exports. High-tech products are our nation’s largest overseas export, composing 17.8 percent of all our exports and supporting more than 900,000 U.S. jobs. By moving the long overdue free-trade agreements with Panama, South Korea and Colombia forward, our nation will send a strong message that it is serious about opening markets and supporting the growth of global trade.

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September 18, 2011- Op-eds - Government Handcuffs Innovation

Washington should learn from America’s successful high-tech companies by being more responsive to changes in the global marketplace. That includes adopting policies that help those businesses to compete, grow and hire. For instance, President Barack Obama should submit the pending free-trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea so Congress can approve them. In addition to expanding trade, these agreements contain protections for the intellectual property that are vital to the success of our tech companies.

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September 17, 2011- Op-eds - A Pro-Trade Agenda for U.S. Jobs

Yet the United States—the country that fathered the modern world trading system—today has no real trade policy. Free trade agreements completed several years ago with South Korea, Panama and Colombia have yet to be approved by Congress. The Doha world trade talks have been dying a slow death for years. And the U.S. has let the European Union, Canada, China and other countries take the lead on trade opening with many of the fast-growing economies of Asia and Latin America. What has gone wrong?

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September 17, 2011- Op-eds - Trade Pacts That Will Boost New England

New England is home to countless goods and services, from fresh seafood to cutting-edge medical devices, that are in demand around the globe. And so the New England Council, representing over 400 businesses and organizations, is encouraged by progress toward approval of three free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Each agreement offers unique market opportunities to increase the export of goods and services from New England and create job opportunities.

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September 16, 2011- Op-eds - Why the Jobs Plan Falls Short

While the jobs plan President Obama proposed last week contains some ideas that American business supports, it falls short. It focuses too much on government spending and temporary tax breaks and too little on the trade, energy, tax, regulatory and entitlement reforms that will jolt our economy and job market back to life. He was right to call for passage of the long-pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. But the United States should also be vigorously negotiating new trade and investment agreements around the world.

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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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