The Peruvian Free Trade Agreement, the most likely to be approved of the four pending agreements before Congress, will soon be voted on by the full Senate after gaining adoption by the Senate Finance Committee.
"We're very pleased Peru is moving ahead," says U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. "But we need to see a date, see a plan for when the Columbian agreement and Panamanian agreement will come up for a vote."
The pending agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea have a harder road ahead, especially Columbia and South Korea. The challenges facing the South Korean deal involve beef trade, while in the case of Columbia the obstacle is some U.S. lawmakers' demands for improvement of how that country deals with violence against union leaders.
Gutierrez says these agreements, particularly the Central and South American ones, would equalize current trade agreements that give duty-free access of those nations products to the U.S.
"What this free trade agreement does, it gives us access to their market," Gutierrez says. "So if we've been willing to approve preferences for their exports, I think we should be willing to approve preference for our exports."