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Policy

Trade Deal Faces Fight In Congress

April 14, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 15

With strong support from U.S. industry, President George W. Bush has sent Congress a controversial free-trade agreement with Colombia, a move that will force lawmakers to vote on the pact within 90 legislative days. The measure faces an uphill battle. Democratic leaders in both chambers say support for the trade deal will hinge on renewal and expansion of a program designed to help workers who lose their jobs as a result of foreign competition. The pact with Colombia would level the playing field for U.S. exporters by immediately providing nearly complete access to a $30 billion market. U.S. manufacturers currently face 14% tariffs on average for industrial products shipped to the South American country. U.S. exports to Colombia include chemicals, plastics, cereal, heavy machinery, and electronics. Dow Chemical annually exports more than $300 million worth of products from the U.S. to the Colombian market. Duties on the majority of these products would be eliminated under the pact.

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