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FACT CHECK: Santorum Overstates Obama Lag on Colombia Trade FACT CHECK: Santorum Overstates Obama Lag on Colombia Trade

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CAMPAIGN 2012

FACT CHECK: Santorum Overstates Obama Lag on Colombia Trade

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum unfairly accused President Obama of holding Colombia "out to dry for three years" on the free trade agreement. The pact first stalled during the Bush administration, and Obama revived it.

"Colombia, who's out there on the front lines working with us against  the narco-terrorists, standing up to Chavez in South America-- and what did we do?" Santorum said. "For domestic, political purposes, the president of the United States sided with organized labor and the environmental groups and held Colombia hanging out to dry for three years. We cannot do that to our friends in South America."

 

While it's fair to say the president didn't pick up the Colombia Free Trade agreement immediately upon taking office, the deal first stalled under former President George W. Bush.  Obama revisited the trade pact and got it passed in October.

Here's a brief timeline: 

The Colombia Free Trade agreement was originally negotiated by President Bush, who sent a version to Congress on April 7, 2007. It stalled when Congress failed to consider it within the time frame stipulated under Trade Promotion Authority.

 

The Obama administration began discussing the future of the free trade agreement when former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe visited in 2009. Those discussions continued after the election of Juan Manuel Santos in 2010.

The two countries re-opened official negotiations after the successful negotiation of the Korea agreement. Those talks led to the creation of the Colombia Labor Action Plan which both countries signed in April 2011.

That agreement set up a series of labor-related goals and benchmarks that the Colombia government had to meet and report to the U.S. both before the agreement would be submitted and throughout the ratification process.

After Colombia completed the first segments of the labor plan, Obama sent the agreement to Congress and the deal was approved, along with the Panama and Korea deals, on October 12, 2011.

 
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