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Obama Whitehouse Whitewashes Panama’s Fatal Flaws

The pending Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Panama, also known as the Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA), has remained in limbo since its initial signing on June 28, 2007. While Panama approved the TPA several weeks later, the U.S. Congress has left the agreement in political purgatory until this past June, when the U.S. House of Representatives irresponsibly struck a deal on terms to be considered for approval during a new round of FTAs with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. This was the first time during the Obama administration that the TPA seemed to be moving forward; however, the interminable debt talks and the congressional recess in August have essentially put progress on hold again. Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) of the House Ways and Means Committee had earlier stated that he did not “think this [would] happen before August unfortunately.” Therefore, the issue may still be in doubt, at least at this time.

In the meantime, lobbyists and big businesses have been hard at work trying to get all three trade measures passed. Yet, a poll conducted by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal in 2010 found that 53 percent of surveyed Americans believe that FTAs hurt the U.S., a sizeable increase from the 32 percent who believed so in 1999. Many politicians since have taken note and have protectively campaigned on anti-FTA platforms, promising not to outsource U.S. jobs. Therefore, both the White House and fervent K Street lobbyists have had to push hard, as the latter “have been going in and, one by one, flipping the people who campaigned against it,” according to Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. Wallach also has observed that there remains a “liability [in] voting in favor of a job-offshoring, unsafe-import-flooding, ‘Buy America’-killing, food-safety-undermining, drug-price-rising, foreign-corporate-treasury-raiding, financial-deregulating trade agreement.”

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Carrie Burggraf.


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This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Carrie Burggraf.
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