WASHINGTON — Bowing to pressure from Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Bush administration said Wednesday that it would revise labor rights provisions in trade deals with Peru, Colombia and Panama before the measures are brought to a vote in Congress.
“We are open to dialogue with Congress regarding the labor chapter of those agreements,” Deputy U.S. Trade Representative John Veroneau told a roundtable of reporters. “It is clear that some adjustments to that chapter will be made before Congress takes those up.”
Veroneau would not discuss whether the U.S. would have to make concessions to Peru, Colombia or Panama in return for the changes.
The three trade pacts, which lower barriers to commerce between each of the countries and the U.S., will be ready for Congressional consideration before the expiration of President Bush’s trade promotion authority at the end of June, Veroneau said. The authority helps the President negotiate trade deals by guaranteeing there will be no amendments to the pacts as they move through the legislative process.
Congress included templates for the labor and environmental provisions of free trade agreements when it granted the President the negotiating authority in 2002.