US approves free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama; trade agreements are expected to generate $13 billion in new exports for US; Julia Gillard drops asylum swap plan--will process asylum seekers onshore; South Korea will create task force to deal with crimes by US soldiers stationed there; Nigerian pleads guilty to US terror plot; Berlusconi calls for confidence vote in Italy; and more
Top of the Agenda: U.S. Passes Stalled Free Trade Deals
The U.S. Congress approved free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama (NYT) that had been held up by Democrats for five years. The ratification of the treaties--largely negotiated by the Bush administration--was a victory for both President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans. Many congressional Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, voted against the measures.
Proponents of the deals have said they would stimulate the beleaguered U.S. economy and generate employment. The agreements are expected to produce $13 billion in new exports (WSJ), primarily to South Korea. Some opponents have said the pacts do not do enough to protect U.S. workers, while others have said they would inject unwanted competition into the U.S. textiles, electronics, and manufacturing industries.
The South Korea agreement is considered the most significant, called the "most consequential trade pact" (WashPost) since the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, the South Korea deal could create close to three hundred thousand U.S. jobs.
The vote came as South Korean President Lee Myung-bak begins a state visit (CNN) at the White House today.
This recent CFR Independent Task Force report encourages the Obama administration and Congress to adopt a "pro-America" trade policy that brings to more Americans the benefits of global engagement.
The U.S. needs to revitalize trade policy and spur foreign investment in this country--timely ingredients for a job-creating economic resurgence, says former senator Thomas Daschle in this CFR Interview.
President Lee's visit to Washington comes amid a high-point for U.S.-South Korean relations, says CFR's Scott Snyder in a CFR Interview.
Australia Drops Asylum Swap Plan
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard put aside a controversial plan to swap refugees with Malaysia, allowing asylum seekers to be processed onshore (Australian).
SOUTH KOREA: The South Korean government will create a task force to better address crimes by U.S. soldiers (Yonhap) stationed in South Korea. This month two soldiers have been accused of raping teenage girls.
Nigerian pleads guilty to terror plot in US
Berlusconi calls for confidence vote after losing parliamentary vote on budget