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Colorado Governor Urges Passage of Free Trade Deals

Exports of Colorado meat and dairy have risen steadily in recent years.
KUNC file photo
Exports of Colorado meat and dairy have risen steadily in recent years.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has joined a bi-partisan group of governors calling on Congress to ratify three long-pending free trade agreements with Panama, Columbia and South Korea.

Many in Colorado’s agricultural industry believe the lifting of tariffs to these countries will lead to an expansion in business, but frustrations are mounting over the delay.

Take South Korea; the pending free trade deal between the United States and that country dates back to 2007.  The South Korean ambassador even came to Colorado last month to urge its ratification, calling it urgent for Colorado’s export-dependent businesses especially since Australia and the European Union are expected to formally implement free trade agreements over the summer. 

South Korea has quickly become one of the largest consumers of Colorado produced-pork and beef.

Governor Hickenlooper and 23 other governors from Wyoming to Connecticut penned a letter this week to Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress urging a swift passage of the trade deals. 

Hearings began Wednesday, but the stalemate appears to be continuing. 

The Obama Administration has demanded that Congress first restore funding for job training programs for workers that might get displaced if jobs move overseas, before the three trade deals be ratified.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.