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Nearly five years after the Bush administration first negotiated free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, revised versions of those pacts were finally approved by the U.S. Congress last fall and will be implemented during 2012.
Although global companies reacted with an anti-climactic sense of relief, trade analysts welcomed the new opportunities that the pacts will open for U.S. exporters in 2012. Like other U.S. free-trade agreements, the new pacts won't just eliminate tariffs that raise the prices on many U.S. exports to those countries; they will also gradually eliminate non-tariff barriers that make U.S. products harder, or more expensive, to export. Equally important, the pacts will expand trade opportunities for U.S. exporters by requiring stricter protection of their intellectual property in those foreign markets.
Like other trade pacts, the provisions will be a two-way street - opening markets and lowering costs for exports from those countries to the U.S.
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