KORUS FTA Archives - Shopfloor

Still Waiting on Korea, While EU and Japan Move Forward on Trade

By | Trade | One Comment

While the National Association of Manufacturers is disappointed that President Obama and Korean President Lee were unable to close out the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiations this week, we fully support their efforts. The KORUS FTA would be the largest bilateral U.S. trade deal since NAFTA, and it matters to U.S. manufacturers. The agreement eliminates tariffs on 95 percent of consumer and industrial products between the countries within three years, opening up the world’s seventh largest economy. But the NAM has said from the day the agreement was signed that the U.S. auto industry believes there has to be more market access in Korea, particularly by reducing non-tariff barriers. We sincerely hope that when the U.S. and Korean trade negotiators meet again, that they will achieve that market access so that the United States can begin receiving the benefits of free trade that our competitors are about to receive. The stakes are getting higher.

In just the past week, the United States’ two largest trading partners have announced aggressive trade policies to ensure that their exporters have new access to world markets and keep their economies competitive. Meanwhile, the United States continues to debate whether to take Korea, Colombia and Panama’s offers to eliminate for American exporters their tariffs and other trade barriers. Both Japan and the EU have free trade agreements with these countries already or are proposing to negotiate them.

Japan has long remained in the shadows of international economic leadership because of its inward looking agriculture policies, but the Japanese government announced this week that it will press ahead with fundamental domestic reforms in order to implement comprehensive free trade agreements. It said it will put all goods on the table in trade negotiations. It is going to resume free trade negotiations with Korea. At the same time, Japan will be seeking a China-Japan-Korea FTA and an East Asian Free Trade Agreement (EAFTA). Unlike the United States, Japan also wants to speed up a study of a possible agreement with the European Union.

On the other side of the world, European Commission on Nov. 9 announced a trade policy to help revitalize Europe’s economy. Read More

In Korea: Trade Pact’s Strong Defense of Intellectual Property Rights

By | intellectual property, Trade | No Comments

The National Association of Manufacturers’ Doug Goudie has been reporting from a business and trade mission to South Korea.

Our delegation had a long day of back-to-back high level meetings with a variety of senior officials today, as well as a tour of a GM-Daewoo auto assembly facility. Many of the meetings are off-the-record and I won’t abuse the trust. I will say we served American beef at all our meals with senior Korean officials.

Suffice to say, the U.S. business community is still sounding our strong support and outlining the strong benefits manufacturers in America will see from the market-opening provisions in this agreement (as I outlined in my initial post for Monday).

Rather than end there, we’ve seen and done a lot here so far, and I thought I’d look at a few specific examples and thoughts that have come up so far.

Intellectual Property Rights:  The NAM takes a strong stand on robust protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). IPR protection extends far beyond counterfeiting or piracy, of course – innovation is one of America’s greatest competitive advantages and is our key to remaining the cutting-edge manufacturing center in the world.

In discussions with Korean officials this week, we’ve heard them express the same fears about Chinese IPR violations that we hear in America. In the 1980s, Korea had a reputation for lax IPR protections, particularly in counterfeiting and piracy. This is no longer the case – China and some other Asian nations are the offenders now- but if anyone is still concerned, the Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) has extremely strong IPR language written into it. (Chapter 18)

I went shopping first day into some of the markets, looking for counterfeit consumer goods. Not to buy, mind you!  Knock-offs still abound in handbags and luggage at the market I visited — I won’t deny that fact — but they are obvious knockoffs that wouldn’t fool my 3 year old daughter, let alone a Real Housewife. For example, “Conch” bags bear a resemblance to “Coach”.

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