Trade was an issue on which the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans were supposed to be able to cooperate. Instead, little over a month into the new Congress, a number of separate trade-related policies have become hostage to partisan gamesmanship and localised concerns.
The affected initiatives include two preferential market access schemes (one for Andean nations and one covering a much larger number of developing countries), a programme that helps U.S. workers hurt by trade, and unratified free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.
The Generalised System of Preferences, through which the U.S. offered preferential duty-free entry to some 4800 products from 131 designated beneficiary countries, lapsed at the end of 2010, after the Senate failed to agree on legislation to extend it. Imports previously covered by the agreements have since 1 January been subject to standard import duties, apart from those covered by a separate preferential access arrangement for Africa. Read more here.