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Free Trade

January 15, 2012
Nearly 20 years after President Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, a key provision that grants Mexican trucks access to U.S. highways remains stalled. Staunch opposition from unions and consumer groups in this country, which argue that unsafe foreign trucks and inexperienced drivers put U.S. jobs and lives at risk, have successfully shut down even the most modest attempts to comply with NAFTA. In October, the Obama administration tried again, with a pilot program granting three Mexican trucking firms limited access to U.S. roads.
January 4, 2012 | By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times
For nearly 40 years, farmer Eiichi Fukuda has put his faith in the land, trusting the annual yield of the fertile brown soil to help feed his family and the rest of his nation. But these days, the veteran grower has watched the good earth turn dangerous. Nearly 10 months after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was struck by an earthquake-triggered tsunami, releasing radioactive cesium into the atmosphere, many nearby farmers are now at odds with their own land. Fukuda's eldest son, Hideaki, refuses to drive the tractor without a glass compartment to protect him from blowing dust.
October 13, 2011 | By Kathleen Hennessey, Washington Bureau
Congress passed a trio of free-trade agreements late Wednesday, removing barriers to trade with Panama, South Korea and Colombia — but exacerbating deep disagreements among Democrats on the government's role in protecting U.S. industries. The approval of the pacts, in a rare bipartisan collaboration, is a big victory for President Obama, who sold the deals as a key step toward bolstering job growth. But it angered liberal groups and labor unions that say the agreements will hurt working Americans by subjecting them to additional foreign competition and accelerating a race to the bottom on wages.
July 9, 2011 | By Peter Nicholas, Washington Bureau
As White House aides search for ways to show progress on the economy, they are banking that a set of small-scale proposals may be able to win congressional approval and dent a chronically high unemployment rate considered the main threat to President Obama's reelection chances. Obama has turned to the modest measures in the absence of more ambitious tools, such as stimulus spending, which are not an option for the White House in the climate of austerity and fiscal discipline dominating Washington.
July 3, 2011
Free-trade battles Re "GOP balks over job provision in trade proposals," Business, June 29 The Times' headline insinuates that Republicans are to blame for the trade pact with South Korea not going through. In fact, Republicans have been pushing free-trade agreements for years, especially with South Korea and Colombia, and the Democrats and the union lobby have been stonewalling them. Now that the Democrats have inserted a piece of pork into the bill — a very expensive, ineffective worker retraining rider, which the Republicans rightly oppose — The Times seems to blame the Republicans.
June 30, 2011
During the Bush administration, congressional Democrats never tired of finding reasons to oppose important free-trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama: The deals were too unfriendly to U.S. automakers, they complained, or they didn't protect against human rights abuses, or they failed to guarantee that foreign companies wouldn't undercut American competitors by underpaying their workers. Under President Obama, the agreements have been renegotiated to erase nearly all those objections, and they finally seemed poised for approval.
June 21, 2011 | By Peter Navarro
The American economy has been in trouble for more than a decade, and no amount of right-wing tax cuts or left-wing fiscal stimuli will solve the primary structural problem underpinning our slow growth and high unemployment. That problem is a massive, persistent trade deficit — most of it with China — that cuts the number of jobs created by nearly the number we need to keep America fully employed. To understand why huge U.S. trade deficits represent the taproot of the nation's economic woes, it's crucial to understand that four factors drive our gross domestic product: consumption, business investment, government spending and net exports.
February 9, 2011 | By Michael A. Memoli and Michael Muskal, Washington Bureau
The top Republicans in the House of Representatives dined with President Obama on Wednesday, and the menu was dominated by talk on the economy, budget deficits, regulatory reform and trade. Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, of California, had lunch with the president, Vice President Joe Biden and Chief of Staff Bill Daley. There were no concrete agreements, but both sides said the session was agreeable.  “It was a very good lunch, and we were able to find enough common ground, I think, to assure the American people that we are willing to work on their behalf and willing to do it together,” Boehner, of Ohio,  told reporters after the luncheon.
January 24, 2011 | By Alana Semuels and Tom Hamburger, Los Angeles Times
On the eve of President Obama's expected push for American competitiveness in his State of the Union speech, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off a lobbying campaign in Los Angeles to push the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Its most unusual feature: close cooperation between the business group and the White House. The trade deal, which would be the largest since NAFTA took effect in 1994, has provided the first notes of harmony between the Obama administration and the chamber, whose relationship has been strained almost since the moment Obama took office.
November 11, 2010 | By Christi Parsons and Ethan Kim, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
Despite a furious round of negotiations the last few days, the U.S. failed Thursday to work out a free-trade agreement with South Korea, denying President Obama a deal he had hoped would be a strong kickoff to a key economic summit of world leaders. Obama said he still hopes for a pact within weeks, and believes that representatives of the top 20 industrialized and developing economies will reach "a broad-based consensus" on reconciling trade imbalances while they are meeting here this week.
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