A Reuters article regarding President Obama’s trade policy highlighted the lack of efforts made by the Obama Administration in the past nine months to promote trade. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) was interviewed, stating
“If you go to class, college, and you don’t do anything, you get an F.”.
“Grassley’s tough language reflects Republican frustration with White House inaction on free trade pacts with Panama, Colombia and South Korea, which were negotiated by the administration of former President George W. Bush.
“If there’s anything that would help us with this economic downturn, it would be to promote trade … If you’re in a recession and trade would help you get out of it, you shouldn’t be doing nothing,” Grassley said at the summit, held at the Reuters office in Washington.
The United States suffered tremendously last year after Congress prevented three free trade agreements (FTAs) from Peru, Colombia and South Korea to pass. Despite rallies on Capitol Hill and many visits by these counties Presidents and Ambassadors the pending FTAs died in committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unfortunate decision left the United States without a viable alternative to improve the economy (bear in mind that last year exports made up 12.5 percent of the U.S. economy.)
Eight years ago, the United States had FTAs with only three countries. Today, we currently have 14 FTAs. Countries who maintain FTAs with us generate a budget surplus in the U.S. of $20 billion. Compared to other areas of the globe like the European Union, which has close to 20 FTAs and China, which has close to 25 FTAs, the U.S. falls woefully short.
If the U.S. does not take a stronger role in the global economy, other countries will step in, removing the United States from competitive play. President Obama needs to realize the importance of the FTAs and what benefits they have to the United States’ economy.