Wednesday, May 07, 2008

U.S.-Panama FTA

President Bush met with Panamanian President Martín Torrijos to launch his effort to get a U.S.-Panama FTA ratified. One of the major roadblocks has now been removed, as Pedro Miguel Gonzalez, the speaker of Panama’s National Assembly who the U.S. government accuses of murdering an American soldier, announced he would not seek re-election.

This means that there are no major problems with the deal, but questions remain about whether it will be approved.

--If political capital is required to push some recalcitrant members of Congress, does Bush have any at all? In a statement he said the administration would do “everything in our capacity” to get it passed, but there’s just not much capacity left.

--The South Korea FTA will take center stage, so will it push debate on Panama too far back to get passed before Bush leaves office?

--Will the administration push the Colombia FTA again, thus pushing the Panama deal back?

--Will the Democratic Party be so focused on swing states in a presidential election in the midst of a recession that it will be unwilling to pass free trade this year? It will be hard to argue that the Panama FTA will matter much economically, but it is a matter of perception.

For anyone interested, here is the link to the USTR’s info page on the Panama FTA.


Anonymous,  10:50 AM  

Today Bush brought up the the Colombia FTA agreement again. He was talking about the agenda of the Republican caucus, in an attempt to thwart Democratic-sponsored bills on the housing crisis, repealing tax cuts, FISA, etc and push Republican sponsored ones.

Nothing new, just the usual "weakens our national security not to support a staunch ally, weakens the economy"

You really have to question how much is going to get done in Congress until the elections. My guess is the bare you said the Bush admin doesnt seem have any political capital left, and the Democrats are going to try to sit on everything they can manage to, which they should.

Greg Weeks 8:43 AM  

Yes, though talking about Colombia is not the same as pushing for it (i.e. massive media push, horse trading, etc.).

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