Obama Backs Free Trade Agreements

Obama Backs Free Trade Agreements

President Obama said he will push to renegotiate a pair of stalled free trade agreements with Panama and Colombia and will urge Congress to ratify them.

Obama spoke Wednesday at an event highlighting his administration’s goal of doubling exports in five years. The White House said U.S. exports during the first four months were up 17 percent from a year ago.

The president said last month that he intended to make a new push for a free trade agreement with South Korea.

All three of the agreements were negotiated under former President George W. Bush and have been stalled in Congress by Democratic opposition.

Democrats have objected to South Korean restrictions on automobile and beef imports from the United States. Business groups have said the agreements are needed to widen U.S. exporters’ access to overseas markets.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland has called on the president to renegotiate all three of the stalled trade agreements and send them to Congress.

-- Contact Joseph Bonney at jbonney@joc.com.