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Stalled free trade deals now on a fast track, White House says

Three free trade deals – with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia – will be signed, sealed, and delivered by the middle of next week, predicts White House Chief of Staff William Daley. For Washington, that would be fast work.

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White House Chief of Staff William Daley speaks at the Washington Ideas forum at The Newseum, yesterday.

Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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By the time South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak arrives at the White House for a state dinner honoring him next Thursday, President Obama will be able to present him with a ratified US-Korea free trade agreement.

That’s the prediction of White House Chief of Staff William Daley, who confidently told a Washington audience of business leaders and diplomats Wednesday night that Congress will approve a package of three free-trade deals and domestic trade-impact legislation by the middle of next week.

Mr. Daley told guests at the National Foreign Trade Council’s annual black-tie dinner that the four-part trade package – free trade deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, plus legislation that renews funding for retraining workers who lose jobs to foreign competition – will move “across the finish line” next Wednesday.

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