Created 05/19/2009 - 8:40am
Bloomberg News this morning reports that U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk gave a speech yesterday to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce "saying he hopes Congress will approve stalled trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea within the next year." The good news is that Kirk also noted that Bush-written trade policies are "really a tough sell in this environment."
They certainly should be--our lobbyist-written trade policies have significantly contributed to the economic collapse, hollowing out America's good-paying job base for years. Indeed, just yesterday , we see what that means: As the government bolsters domestic automakers, our rigged trade/international economic policies may undermine those efforts by allowing taxpayer cash to subsidize more job outsourcing.
The good news out of Kirk's speech was the fact that he "said negotiators in his office are working 'furiously' on labor and tax issues with Panama." At a time of massive budget deficits, that's an important step--especially when you consider how easy it currently is to hide tax income in a tax haven like Panama. Check out this video from Global Trade Watch --notice that the organization's intern is able to quickly set up a shell corporation to hide tax revenues:
It's important to keep up the pressure on the Obama administration to substantially change the Panama, South Korea and Colombia trade agreements. It's fairly clear that the progressive trade policy changes Obama promised will not come unless that pressure is intense and constant. But if it is intense and constant, I'm increasingly encouraged  we can begin moving this seemingly immovable debate forward.
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