Congress OKs free-trade deals with South Korea, Colombia, Panama

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Congress late Wednesday, Oct. 12, approved three free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that are expected to be signed by President Obama. The South Korea deal alone eliminates duties on roughly two-thirds of U.S. farm exports and phases out tariffs on more than 95 percent of consumer and industrial exports within five years.

“The landmark trade agreements and assistance for American workers are a major win for American workers and businesses,” Obama said. “I’ve fought to make sure that these trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama deliver the best possible deal for our country, and I’ve insisted that we do more to help American workers who have been affected by global competition.”

Obama said the bipartisan vote will boost U.S. exports, support tens of thousands of American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property. “American automakers, farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, including many small businesses, will be able to compete and win in new markets,” he said. “I look forward to signing these agreements, which will help achieve my goal of doubling American exports and keeping America competitive in the 21st century.”