By  on March 17, 2009

WASHINGTON — Free-falling global economies have tempered President Obama’s once tough talk on trade, forcing him to engage in a balancing act between stricter enforcement of existing policies and implementation of new trade agreements.

Despite Democrats controlling the executive and legislative branches of government for the first time since 1993, the President’s trade team faces challenges from a trade-wary faction of lawmakers in the Democratic caucus, as well as from pro-trade Republicans reluctant to support a Democratic president. Trade veterans expect Obama to take a pragmatic approach in navigating these political waters, allowing some trade liberalization, but at a much slower pace and under a new template emphasizing stronger labor and environmental provisions.

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