Congress Passes 3 Free-Trade Pacts
Obama scores win with S. Korea, Colombia, Panama deals
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2011 2:10 AM CDT
Updated Oct 13, 2011 4:44 AM CDT
A passenger boat in Seattle is dwarfed by cargo container cranes and a container ship from South Korea-based Hanjin Shipping.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(Newser) – President Obama scored a victory with the passage of a trio of free-trade pacts yesterday, marking America's biggest trade expansion in nearly 20 years. The House and Senate both approved the pacts with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. While the Latin American pacts may have little impact, the South Korean deal could create as many 280,000 American jobs and boost exports by $12 billion, the Washington Post reports.

Farm exports are expected to get a major boost from the South Korean deal, but labor groups opposed to the pact warned that the deal could wipe out American jobs in the textile, manufacturing, and electronics industries. Obama is expected to unveil further East Asian trade deals this fall, although the pacts have been scaled back considerably. "Right from the start Obama has been very reluctant to do any trade liberalization at all. However, he realized that if he did not engage with Asia on trade and economics he was leaving the field to China," the director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics tells the Wall Street Journal.