Trade Agreements Need Consideration from Congress (Sen. Max Baucus)

Free trade agreements with Peru, Panama, Colombia, and South Korea are pending before Congress. These agreements contain the terms of a landmark deal reached in May between the Congress and the Administration that for the first time ever requires enforceable, internationally recognized labor and environmental standards in our free trade pacts.

It is time for Congress to begin its deliberations on pending agreements. I expect the Peru and Panama agreements to garner wide congressional support. I strongly support both and expect the Senate Finance Committee to begin to review the Peru agreement shortly.

The Colombia agreement is more difficult. Colombia represents a key Latin American market and has been a stalwart partner of the United States. I want to find a way to get this agreement passed, but to do so it is critical that the Colombian government address, in a meaningful way, concerns related to violence against trade unionists and effective prosecution of such crimes. I stand ready to work with all parties -- inside and outside of the government -- to do so.

A pending FTA with Korea also has great potential to expand export opportunities with our seventh largest trading partner. But, as I have said repeatedly, I will not move this agreement in the Senate until Korea follows international scientific standards and lifts its unjustified ban on all U.S. beef products. Korea must also provide assurance that it will abide by sound science and not reimpose these restrictions.

These agreements are one small part of our work on trade. In addition, we must renew and expand Trade Adjustment Assistance, ensure that we have the tools to fully enforce our trade agreements and trade laws, equip American workers with the skills and benefits they need to succeed on the global marketplace.