SEOUL—The presidents of the U.S. and South Korea were unable to overcome disputes over cars, cattle and domestic politics, potentially killing the biggest bilateral trade deal the U.S. has taken up in more than a decade.The failure to resolve issues by Barack Obama's self-imposed deadline was a blow to the president, who has put export growth at the center of his jobs agenda and had invested political capital in getting a deal by the Group of 20 summit in Seoul.A U.S. trade official said working-level staff from both sides will meet Friday. But chances for a deal look dim given opposition Mr. Obama faces from Ford Motor Co., labor unions and Democratic lawmakers.Labor leaders and some powerful politicians from both parties praised Mr. Obama for not going ahead with a deal they characterized as bad for U.S. workers. "President Obama is exactly right in holding out for a deal that puts working people's interests first," said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.Polls suggest U.S. political support for trade-opening deals is weakening amid high unemployment. While Republican congressional leaders have suggested they would support moving forward on such deals, some newly elected GOP lawmakers have expressed doubts.Without presidential pressure, trade experts say the South Korea agreement, which has languished in Congress since 2007, could return to limbo along with pending trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and the dormant Doha round of global trade talks. In addition, Mr. Obama hasn't moved to resolve a festering trade dispute with Mexico because of pressure from Democratic lawmakers and unions.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
From Bob Davis and Elizabeth Williamson of The Wall Street Journal on Nov. 12: