The president and CEO of the Washington-based U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a nationwide business federation of more than 3 million members, predicted in a filmed interview with GlobalAtlanta that Congress will pass three controversial free trade agreements before the 2008 election.
Thomas Donohue said that presidential hopefuls—both Republicans and Democrats—will pressure Congress to approve agreements negotiated with Colombia, Panama and South Korea by the current administration to bolster U.S. foreign relations.
“Remember, they’ve been criticizing the president for not having good relations around the world,” Mr. Donohue said. “So what are they going to do, cancel agreements that have already been negotiated? I doubt it. They’re going to tell these guys to get it done before we get there.”
Mr. Donohue added that widespread hostility to free trade in the U.S. is the result of fear-mongering by unions and the press, who claim that American jobs will be moved overseas if companies have greater access to those markets.
He argues that lost jobs can be recovered by American companies expanding their employee bases back home to support greater international sales.
Mr. Donohue, also a member of the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy Negotiations, was in Atlanta to speak at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner meeting Jan. 14, where he said that partisanship and near gridlock in Washington are presenting challenges to the American business community.
According to the Georgia Chamber’s Web site, he also said at the dinner that these challenges should provide the impetus for U.S. businesspeople to become more involved in the political process.