US senator raps Obama stalling on trade deals
Thursday, June 18 2009 @ 11:03 am EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
"All we've seen is false starts from the administration, and even more backsliding from the majority party, particularly in the House," he said.
Obama administration officials have sent conflicting signals on trade this year. Initially, they said they were working hard on readying the Panama deal for Congress.
Then they indicated last month that the Panama deal would wait until Obama outlined a new trade policy framework, and said this framework needed to be in sync with domestic policy.
Meanwhile some 50 House of Representatives Democrats have demanded that the Panama deal be renegotiated, saying they are concerned about Panama's tax and labor laws.
Grassley warned that U.S. exports had fallen this year as officials dithered over trade pacts. Meanwhile Canada was conducting trade negotiations with Panama and had already completed talks with Colombia, he said. The European Union was also negotiating with Colombia and South Korea, he said.
"We've in a sense been wallflowers at this dance before," Grassley said. Between 1995 and 2002, U.S. negotiating partners concluded over a hundred trade deals while the United States clinched just three, he said.
(Editing by Eric Beech)