US: Lawmakers urge changes to Korea trade pact
US lawmakers are again calling for “substantive changes” to the pending trade pact with Korea ahead of the upcoming G-20 summit in November.
Their concerns are outlined in a letter sent yesterday (18 October) to President Obama and South Korean President Lee. They were prompted by comments made by the US President in June that he planned to address the outstanding issues in the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) before the G-20 meeting and send the agreement to Congress for approval in the following months.
The lawmakers’ action also comes after five textile industry trade associations and the labour union representing textile and apparel workers in August urged the US government to make changes to the textile portions of the free trade agreement with South Korea in order to avoid large scale job losses.
“President Obama and President Lee must take this opportunity to establish a new 21st century standard for free trade agreements,” wrote Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME), chairman of the House Trade Working Group.
“Even beyond the market access issues for textiles, autos and beef, the current free trade agreement is based on the same failed NAFTA model and promises to ship US jobs overseas.”
In August, opponents outlined three critical errors they claim the legislation contains:
- Large and competitive Korean producers were given immediate and sometimes asymmetric duty free access to the US market in sensitive textile categories;
- The customs enforcement text is weak and will encourage massive fraud, and
- The rule of origin for textiles and apparel gives benefits to China and other countries for a number of important products.
However, with US politicians and the administration now caught up in the country's upcoming mid-term elections in early November, it seems unlikely the legislation will feature high on their list of priorities.
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