Obama Administration Moves Forward on International Economic Policy


NDN applauds last week’s announcement by the Obama Administration on its intent to renegotiate and push for Congressional approval of the Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). This announcement follows a similar one from June regarding an FTA with South Korea.

Taken together, these FTAs represent both a legacy of failure on the part of the Bush Administration to create a robust conversation and political consensus around America’s place in a changing global economy and the need for the Obama Administration to clear the decks on the trade agenda in order to move forward. 

Each agreement would expand American access to foreign markets in economically dynamic and geopolitically crucial regions. South Korea, the world’s 14th largest economy, has recently undergone a rapid and impressive economic transformation and is a market the U.S. has good reason to be strongly interested in gaining better access to. Panama and Colombia are both important allies in a region that remains economically significant but politically troubled. While individual, realistic concerns about each agreement exist, the Administration has declared its intention to address them, and, in virtually every case, the partner nation has taken steps to do so as well. 

Over the past two decades, the global economy has gone through a rapid transformation. New nations, businesses, and people are playing increasingly important roles, and American and global economic policy must adapt to these changes. A 21st century strategy for global economic engagement must be a cornerstone of America’s overall economic strategy – alongside healthcare, financial services, immigration, and energy reforms. We applaud the administration for its leadership in this area, as exemplified by both the National Export Initiative and the renewed emphasis on these agreements.