Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, have told U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk that the South Korean Trade Agreement is unlikely to be ratified, unless it's paired, or closely linked to Panama and Columbia FTAs. Baucus has the support of House members who also say they would delay the agreement. House members want the Panama and Columbia deals passed this year.
Senator Hatch threatened to do everything in his power, including pressing ahead without presidential leadership, to ensure Panama and Columbia are considered at the same time as Korea. Others on Senate Finance said they backed Hatch.
Baucus pressed Kirk to provide a specific action plan and timetable to move the Colombia and Panama FTAs. Kirk was asked to identify the additional steps Panama and Colombia should take to move the agreements through Congress. Baucus traveled to Colombia last month to meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and other senior government officials to discuss the loss of U.S. market share in this key market and to examine ways to continue to improve labor rights there.