The Colombia Trade Deal

Like Atrios, I was kind of curious as to what the actual content of the looming free trade agreement with Colombia is. As best I can tell (peruse the text if you're interested) this actually involves very little changes on the US side at all. In essence, Colombian goods already flow very freely into the United States except for in our more famously protected sectors (agriculture, etc.) and what we're offering Colombia here is a very solemn promise to keep it that way.

Colombia, meanwhile, is agreeing to implement a series of neoliberal reforms on a variety of issues, most of which don't have much to do with trade as it's traditionally understood. As has become typical in these deals, Colombia agrees to undertake various intellectual property reform measures, various investment rules, something having to do with their telecommunications sector, etc. I would be very surprised if the IP rules in question were actually a good idea for Colombia, and can't really evaluate the rest of it. Colombia's getting very little out of the deal per se, but its government does get a lot of military support from the US government, and many provisions in here are of interest to American businesses and may well be the sort of thing a right-of-center government would want to do anyway but likes to use the framework of a "deal" to help sell the measure.

All things considered, this seems to have almost no implications for American well-being, and if I were a member of congress I think I would consider this an excellent moment to let me vote be dictated by pure partisan politics or possibly corruption. If I were a blogger, I would say that lowering barriers to the importation of foreign goods on a unilateral basis would be good policy for the United States and that using bi- or multi-lateral trade negotiations to try to get other countries to adopt "pro-business" policies is a pretty dubious undertaking.