KORUS Applauded by Business Community and Both Sides of the Aisle
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by Tami Overby
The news that an agreement was reached on the Korea-U.S. (KORUS) free trade agreement was welcomed by the business community, as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. And for good reason. According to the U.S. government, implementing KORUS would boost U.S. GDP by nearly $12 billion and generate nearly $11 billion in U.S. merchandise exports. It would generate an additional boost to U.S. exports to other countries of more than $5 billion. These figures do not include the potential for growth of the U.S. services industry. A recent U.S. Chamber study found that 345,000 American workers stand to lose their jobs if the agreement is not implemented while other countries' FTAs with Korea enter into force.
Below is a small sample of statements from industry and lawmakers praising the announcement of an agreement for the US- South Korea trade pact:
Ford CEO Alan Mulally:
"As a global company committed to free trade, Ford Motor Company applauds the outlines of the revised U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement that were announced today. President Barack Obama and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk vigorously advocated the important principle of two-way trade, and the resulting agreement provides greater clarity and transparency by affirmatively addressing the issues surrounding non-tariff and tariff barriers. These new provisions provide Ford greater confidence that we will be able to better serve our Korean customers. We deeply appreciate the tireless efforts of the Obama Administration and Congress to improve this agreement and open the Korean auto market."
Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin (D-MI):
"The changes announced today resulted from the Administration, domestic automotive industry, the United Auto Workers and a key, bipartisan Congressional group standing up for American manufacturing. This was the only way to reverse the historic, lopsided pattern of one-way trade with South Korea. I support today's agreement. It is important for American manufacturing and American jobs. It is also an important step toward a global rules-based trade system."
Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI):
"This is a big win for American employers and workers. I want to thank the President and his negotiating team for working closely with me to reduce the barriers our domestic auto industry faces today and get the best deal possible. The agreement concluded today will give meaningful market access to U.S. auto companies and support good-paying jobs in the United States. Not only will this agreement ensure that job-creating U.S. exports are competitive in this vital market, it will - along with other ongoing trade talks in the region - provide us with a critical counterbalance to China's growing influence."
JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon:
"We applaud President Obama and President Lee for their leadership in moving forward with the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement. Their commitment will provide the needed momentum to ensure swift approval and implementation of the agreement by both governments. Implementation of this agreement with Korea will provide great opportunities for U.S. workers, businesses and farmers to increase exports and provide expanded services in this key market. We strongly support passage of this agreement. Increasing export and business opportunities through the lowering of tariff barriers and increased market access is critical to our nation's economy. Today's announcement is an important step in achieving the goal of doubling exports in five years, as well as helping to fuel the overall economic recovery."
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA):
"The free-trade agreement announced today between the United States and South Korea is long overdue and an important step for our economy and for getting people back to work . Not only will it result in more opportunities for American companies to compete and create jobs, but it will also ensure that America will continue to be a leader in the global economy by making exports more competitive in the region."
Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT), ECAT Chairman Harold McGraw III, Chairman, President, and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies:
"ECAT applauds the leadership of the United States and South Korea that has led to this long-sought breakthrough on the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Tough issues were on the table and both countries were able to bridge differences and reach an agreement that will benefit both economies. Eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers for farm and manufactured goods, services and investment going into Korea, will enable America to expand its commercial presence in South Korea's large and growing marketplace and will help support and grow American companies and American jobs. Through this FTA, America will position itself as a strong competitor throughout the vibrant Asia-Pacific region, helping to create new economic opportunities for Americans in the region."
Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX):
"Today's announcement is a critical step toward increasing American competitiveness and creating jobs here at home. South Korea is a key ally and trading partner to the United States, and this agreement will strengthen our relationship and add billions to the U.S. economy through increased exports. I look forward to working with the Administration, my colleagues in Congress, and other stakeholders to move the agreement forward as part of a robust trade agenda next year."
President's Export Council Member David Reichert (R-WA):
"Today's announcement by the President about the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement is an important milestone for an agreement that has languished since its signing in June 2007," Reichert said. "I applaud the efforts that have allowed us to reach this point. Opening new markets is a no-cost, proven stimulus that is essential to job creation. Each day we fail to implement this agreement is another missed opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Passing the KORUS FTA is vital to our nation's economic recovery, reengagement in the Asia-Pacific region, and addressing security challenges on the Korean Peninsula. I look forward to working with Ambassador Kirk, my colleagues in Congress, and advocates across the country to broaden support for this agreement."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD):
"I'm pleased to hear the Obama Administration’s announcement that it has reached a deal on the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. This is an important step forward to expand the reach of American exports, which will help create more American jobs. It also helps strengthen our ties to a dependable democratic ally that fosters prosperity and stability in Asia and enhances our economic and national security. The FTA also includes important changes to ensure that workers’ rights and the environment are protected."
Senator Mark Begich (D-AK):
"With Alaska serving as the gateway to the Pacific Rim, the opportunity to increase trade with South Korea is great news. Selling American products and services abroad is one of the best ways to reduce our national debt while creating jobs and boosting the economy at home.
Korea is one of Alaska's major trading partners, purchasing millions of dollars worth of Alaska energy, seafood and other products. This agreement is welcome news for the Alaska business community."
Jason Speer, Vice President and General Manager of Quality Float Works, Inc.
"Adopting a free trade agreement with Korea would offer a tremendous avenue to continue our success in the global marketplace. This agreement has the potential to create tens of thousands of new American jobs and boost U.S. exports and GDP by billions of dollars."
UAW statement on the proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement:
"The UAW joins Congressman Sander Levin in his statement that, 'The changes announced to the U.S. - Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) today are a dramatic step toward changing from a one-way street to a two-way street for trade between the U.S. and South Korea. These changes represent an important opportunity to break open the Korean market for U.S. businesses and workers and boost American manufacturing jobs, particularly in the automotive sector.'
President Obama, Vice President Biden and their administration gave the labor movement, and particularly the UAW, an opportunity to be part of the discussions about this agreement. Working in collaboration with the Obama Administration, Congressman Levin, Congressman Dave Camp, and top management from the auto companies, especially Alan Mulally of Ford, we believe an agreement was achieved that will protect current American auto jobs, that will grow more American auto jobs, that includes labor and environmental commitments, and that has important enforcement mechanisms.
Under the 2007 proposed agreement, almost 90 percent of Korea's auto exports to the United States would have received immediate duty-free access on the day the FTA entered into force. Under the current proposed agreement, duty elimination is now delayed until Year Five of the agreement, giving U.S. automakers the time to reverse the damage caused by decades of South Korean protectionism. Also with this agreement, cuts in the U.S. 25 percent truck tariff are substantially delayed until Year Eight of the agreement and then are phased in though Year Ten of the agreement. Under the 2007 proposed agreement, truck tariffs were cut immediately from the day the FTA entered into force.
This agreement is an important step toward a global rule-based trade system, an important step in giving labor a real voice in trade negotiations. We look forward to working with the Obama Administration on the issue of global rights for workers -- especially the right to organize and bargain collectively."
United Food Commercial Workers (UFCW) Statement of Support:
"The recently announced proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement represents a small, but not insignificant, step forward on U.S. global trade agreements. UFCW and its members would like to recognize Ambassador Ron Kirk and his team for the improvements they negotiated to the Bush agreement of 2007. In particular, the Administration insisted on meaningful changes in the automobile sector that will help American autoworkers and manufacturers achieve a more level playing field. Also, academics estimate that the Korean agreement will create over 20,000 jobs in the U.S. meat export producing sectors that employ hundreds of thousands of UFCW members."