Chesterton Tribune



USW: US-South Korea trade pact a failure

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The United Steelworkers (USW) joined members of Congress and private sector experts on Wednesday in declaring that the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS-FTA) has “fallen far short of job promises and improvements in trade balances,” following Saturday’s second anniversary of the trade law.

“Government data, congressional voices, and economic studies confirm that the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement has failed us,” USW President Leo Gerard said. “It has failed to produce good jobs and the evidence on exports is clear. Our export growth rate in the past 20-out-of -21 months is below the average monthly level seen before the FTA was signed.

“What’s astounding is the monthly imports from Korea are up 4 percent and the monthly U.S. trade deficit with Korea has ballooned 45 percent when compared to the pre-FTA level,” Gerard said. “The damage from KORUS and other free trade deals have been shown by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) to have caused the loss of tens-of-thousands of good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs.”

“The U.S.-South Korea trade deficit has reached a historic high of $20.67 billion this year, which is a $7.4 billion (56 percent) increase from 2011--the year before KORUS took effect,” the USW said. “And the government numbers continue to get worse in each of the following years with U.S. exports down $1.8 billion since 2011 and $700 million since 2012.”

“These trade imbalances cost us more lost jobs,” Gerard said. “This unsustainable trade imbalance is undermining the economic well-being of American workers. If law-makers in Washington spent as much time worrying about our country’s trade deficit as they did the government’s budget deficit, our country would have more family-supportive jobs and a better trade policy.”

“Trade data for the first year of the FTA document exports of manufactured metal products to Korea fell 8 percent,” the USW said. “Exported manufactured wood, paper, and petroleum products have all fallen 3 percent. Thousands of USW members are employed in the sectors of steel, aluminum, copper, paper and petroleum products.”

The trade data also shows that the U.S. overall trade deficit with the 11 countries currently participating in negotiations of the flawed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is $154 billion. If TPP has the same negative and growing impact as KORUS, American job losses and the effect of trade imbalances will multiply.

Meanwhile, U.S. vehicle exports to Korea totaled 14,819 units in 2011 and increased to 27,553 units in 2013, the USW said. But Korea’s exports to the United States grew from 587,328 to 752,675 units over the same period. “The entire annual increase in U.S. vehicle exports to Korea are dwarfed by less than one-month of the increase alone in Korea’s exports.”

“The failures of the Korea FTA show why future trade deals need to eliminate non-tariff trade barriers; include strong rules of origin; develop enforceable labor and environmental standards; and stop our country’s focus on negotiating enhanced protections for corporations at the expense of workers’ rights,” Gerard said. “And, these provisions need to be backed up by strong implementation and enforcement provisions to guarantee results.”


Posted 3/13/2014