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Policy

Obama Wants Shift In U.S. Trade Policy

by Glenn Hess
March 9, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 10

The Obama Administration plans to ask Mexico and Canada to revise portions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and will also consider changes to pending free trade agreements. In its first annual trade policy report to Congress, the White House Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is signaling a shift away from the Bush Administration's focus on expanding free trade agreements toward a greater emphasis on protecting workers rights and the environment. In the report, the Administration reaffirms Obama's campaign pledge to push Canada and Mexico to reopen parts of NAFTA related to labor and environmental standards "in a collaborative spirit." During his trip to Canada last month, Obama said he wants to add environmental and labor provisions to the 1994 trade pact in a way "that is not disruptive" to the U.S.-Canada trade relationship. USTR also says Obama will reassess whether bilateral free trade agreements that the Bush Administration negotiated with Colombia and South Korea are in the best interest of the U.S. and its trading partners.

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