For the latest updates on the Peru, Panama and Colombia FTAs, please see the relevant section of our blog, Eyes on Trade.
Democratic leaders in Congress and the executive branch have a choice to make. NAFTA-style "free trade" agreements (FTAs) with Panama and Colombia, left over from the Bush administration, remain pending, with corporate backers and "free trade" cheerleaders urging for their passage. On the campaign trail, President Obama expressed his opposition (PDF) to some of the most harmful and anti-democratic aspects of our current trade policy, and pledged to renegotiate NAFTA. We need to do the work to ensure that he keeps these campaign promises.
Obama's U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, has made disappointing statements about wanting to bring the Panama FTA to Congress making it clear that work cannot stop in the fight to bury the failed NAFTA model once and for all. Panama is infamous as a corporate tax haven, and has some of the most secretive, least transparent banking and financial laws in the world. In the midst of our current global financial crisis, extending an FTA to Panama would send exactly the wrong message in addition to all the rest of the damaging NAFTA-style provisions contained in the Panama FTA.
The Colombia FTA remains controversial, thanks to the repressive regime of Colombia President Álvaro Uribe. Colombia has a terrible record of human and labor rights violations, and is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of internally displaced peoples, particularly with regards to its indigenous and Afro-descendant populations.
As for the Peru FTA, this agreement was passed in late 2007 after an unfortunate May 2007 deal was struck between a handful of House Democrats and the Bush administration. This deal made needed improvements to the labor and environmental provisions, but unfortunately left in almost all the bad NAFTA-style provisions that fair trade groups demanded be taken out. Thus, the deal only put a new roof on a condemned building. The Peru FTA passed only after a majority of House Democrats voted against it - the first time in literally decades that over half of a majority party voted against its leadership.
Learn more about the many problems plaguing the Peru, Panama and Colombia pacts by visiting the issue-areas listed in depth.