The United States has completed negotiations for, but has not yet implemented, FTAs with Peru, Oman, Colombia, Panama and Korea. The president signed legislation approving the Peru FTA in December 2007, but the effective date could be pushed back to as late as January 1, 2009. Congress and the President approved the Oman FTA even earlier, in September 2006, but the Oman FTA is also not yet in effect.
The Colombia FTA, which is nearly identical to the Peru FTA, remains stalled in Congress, because Congressional leadership is still unsatisfied with President Alvaro Uribe’s progress toward stemming that country’s labor violence. Supporters of the extension of ATPDEA remain concerned that preferential treatment of textiles and other products from Peru and Colombia will expire if these FTAs are not put in effect (see related article in this newsletter).
The Korea FTA is also stalled in the Congress. Many in Congress believe Korea has not agreed to sufficient market access for U.S. products, particularly automobiles and beef, and that the agreement must be renegotiated.
The least controversial FTA, with Panama, could be passed in Congress this year, but even its prospects are uncertain this election year. There is opposition to this FTA following the election of Miguel Gonzalez-Pinzon to lead Panama’s National Assembly. Pinzon is alleged to have murdered a U.S. serviceman and faces indictment in the United States.
The Colombia, Korea and Panama FTAs are still subject to the terms of the expired Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, requiring a “fast track” up-or-down vote in Congress without amendments, but it is doubtful whether Congress will consider these FTAs before 2009. The United States also continues to negotiate an FTA with Malaysia, but unless new TPA legislation is passed, Congress would not be required to vote on that FTA under fast track restrictions.