President Obama has signed into law free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. He also signed a bill extending the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program aimed to retrain U.S. workers who will lose their jobs due to the agreements.
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The FTAs now await ratification by governments of the three nations.
Following Obama’s pen-to-paper last Friday, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk released the following statement: “USTR has already started the work necessary to bring these agreements into force as soon as possible. We’re eager for American businesses and workers to begin reaping the benefits of these hard-won agreements. We know that more exports of made-in-America goods and services flowing to consumers in Korea, Colombia, and Panama can support tens of thousands more jobs here at home. Supporting more American jobs with responsible trade policy has always been our goal.”
As for the TAA extension, Kirk said “Typically, TAA recipients are the breadwinners of American families, older, with fewer transferable skills or credentials than other laid-off workers. These TAA reforms make smart investments in American workers negatively affected by trade, including services workers. The TAA program offers not just benefits to help workers stay afloat financially, but also services to upgrade their skills and help them re-enter the workforce in viable growth industries.”