Keith Hennessey

The President’s hidden trade message

At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday the President spoke about trade:

[W]e finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs – a deal that has unprecedented support from business and labor; Democrats and Republicans. That’s the kind of deal I’ll be looking for as we pursue trade agreements with Panama and Columbia and work to bring Russia into the international trading system.

This sounds like a free trade agenda, or at least a pro-trade agenda, which would be good from a President whose party often leans heavily toward protectionism.  The problem is that the U.S. already has trade agreements with Panama and Colombia.  The President is in reality saying that he is undoing those deals.  He also appears to be saying that “unprecedented support from … labor [and] Democrats …” is a precondition to further progress on free trade.

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