USTR Kirk hopes trade deals passed by November APEC meet

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 12, 2011 4:14 PM
USTR Kirk hopes trade deals passed by November APEC meet

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Monday he was hopeful Congress would pass long-delayed trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia before the United States hosts an annual summit meeting for Asia-Pacific leaders in November.

"Our goal has always been to get them done as soon as possible and that hasn't changed," Kirk told reporters after remarks to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

He declined to give a more precise timetable, saying that depended on how quickly the White House and Congress reached agreement on separate legislation known as Trade Adjustment Assistance to help workers displaced by foreign competition.

But asked if it would be embarrassing for the United States if the deals weren't approved by Nov 12-13 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit meeting, Kirk replied: "Well, we're going to be more optimistic than that."

South Korea is a member of APEC along with the United States. All three of the pending trade deals were signed more than four years ago but have yet to be passed by Congress.

Obama, in recent months, has repeatedly called on Congress to pass all three agreements. However, Republicans complain that he first needs to send them to Congress.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Sandra Maler)