In Korea, Business and Manufacturing Delegation Seeks Trade Opportunities

By October 11, 2010Trade

Doug Goudie, Director of International Trade Policy of the National Association of Manufacturers, is representing manufacturing in America and NAM’s member companies and associations on a U.S. business delegation to Korea this week. The delegation is in Seoul to meet with senior Korean government officials and private sector representatives to demonstrate the commitment of the U.S. business community for passage of the U.S.-Korea FTA. He’ll be posting updates to the Shopfloor blog.

Monday, 6:45 P.M. Seoul (5:45 A.M. in DC)

We’ve arrived in Seoul on a very smoggy day. Not much on tap for this afternoon/evening – recovering from the long flight seems to be first order of business. This week-long visit by a strong representative group of U.S. companies and trade associations will be meeting with very senior Korean government and private-sector officials to show our support for passage of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Our message is simple and direct – this agreement will benefit both countries, in all sorts of ways. It will drive growth in U.S. exports, it will drive employment growth, it will benefit manufacturing in America. It is a very strong agreement, especially for manufacturing (it is our largest agreement since NAFTA in terms of two-way trade and projected export growth). Nearly 90 percent of all U.S. exports to Korea are manufactured goods. The U.S. International Trade Commission forecasts a growth of $10 billion annually in U.S. exports after the KORUS agreement takes effect.

President Obama has been clear since his statement at the G20 meeting in Canada in June — and the Coalition supports his position — that outstanding issues in automotive and beef provisions must be addressed before this agreement can be sent to Congress for approval. The NAM has been clear from signing of this agreement in June 2007 that there are automotive issues, particularly in the non-tariff area of standards and regulatory actions, which need to be addressed before the agreement can pass Congress. President Obama has set a deadline of the G20 meeting in Seoul on November 11-12 (which he will attend) for resolution of outstanding issues. We are here to ensure that the Korean negotiators are fully aware that the U.S. business community supports this position.

However, first thing tomorrow, we begin bright and early with a breakfast with Kang Man-soo, Chairman of the Korean President’s Council on Competitiveness, some orientation meetings with some of the AmCham Korea company members, and a dinner with the Executive Board of the AmCham Korea. Wednesday we visit the DMZ during the day, among other activities and meetings.

I must say again, we have an excellent and diverse group represented in this U.S. business delegation, organized by the U.S.-Korea Business Coalition for Free Trade. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce serves as the secretariat of the coalition and is represented here, led by Tami Overby, who headed up the AmCham Korea before joining the Chamber. NAM is the Chair of the Manufacturing Committee for the Coalition.

As Bill Lane of Caterpillar has noted on earlier U.S. business delegation visits to Colombia and Panama: Manufacturers represent two-thirds of U.S. exports – and we’ve got the NAM here. Services represent two-thirds of U.S. jobs – and we’ve got the Coalition of Services Industries here. And Agriculture – well, the farmers represent two-thirds of the votes in Congress – and the Farm Bureau is here. All three pillars are represented, as are our member companies.

Tomorrow, I’ll look at why this agreement is so important to U.S. manufacturers and look at how we’re falling behind on trade – and what might happen if we don’t get back in the car and put our foot on the gas.

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