KORUS Archives - Shopfloor

Critics Use Same Flawed Scare Tactics to Bash Trade Deals

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

Trade critics continue to roll out the same tired arguments lashing out against trade deals that create critical opportunities for American businesses, workers and consumers, even though these arguments have been proven wrong time and time again.

The Sierra Club issued the latest salvo recently, with a new paper that repeats its typical criticisms of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The paper seeks to present a stark picture of the future, warning of a pending “swell” of ISDS challenges to scare governments from moving forward on public interest regulations.

Sound familiar?  It should. Anti-trade environmental groups have used these far-fetched arguments before, even though none of what they have predicted has ever come to pass. The Sierra Club’s claims about the United States’ free trade deal with South Korea is a good example where they warned that the deal would “significantly raise the likelihood of more costly investor-state cases targeting U.S. laws and regulations.”

These arguments are scare tactics, not grounded in facts. After four years, not a single ISDS case has been filed under the Korea-U.S. (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In fact, the United States has free trade agreements in force with 20 countries and bilateral investment treaties in place with approximately 40 countries, and yet has faced only a small number of ISDS cases: 18 cases over the past 25 years. The United States has a strong track record here, having won every single case that has been concluded.

The truth is that ISDS is all about fair play, making sure that governments keep their international commitments, respect private property and treat all companies fairly and without discrimination. Here are some of the key facts about ISDS: Read More

Hearing Set on Trade Pacts as Senators, WaPo Call for Action

By | Trade | No Comments

From the Senate Republicans, @Senate_GOP:

At 3:30 ET today, Leader McConnell, Sen. Orrin Hatch, and Sen. @robportman will hold a press conference on free trade agreements.

Sens. McConnell, Hatch, and @robportman will call for immediate action from the president on pending free trade agreements.

Washington Post editorial, “Time to act on free trade:U.S. agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama should be approved — soon“:

The potential for a trade policy train wreck is real. Everyone needs to focus less on the political tit for tat and more on the policy case for getting these deals done as soon as possible, which is clear and strong. “It is time to identify the specific steps Colombia and Panama must take to move forward,” Mr. Baucus said Wednesday, “so we can finally approve our free-trade agreements with these countries, increase U.S. exports and create jobs here at home.” From a Democrat, that can hardly be considered unfriendly advice, and Mr. Obama would be wise to take it.

House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, “Brady Announces First in a Series of Three Hearings on the Pending, Job-Creating Trade Agreements“:

Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Chairman, Subcommittee on Trade of the Committee on Ways and Means, today announced that the Subcommittee will hold a series of hearings on the pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. According to the President’s own statements, these agreements have the ability to create over 250,000 American jobs. The first hearing will address the agreement with Colombia. The hearing will take place on Thursday, March 17, 2011, in the main Committee hearing room, 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 A.M. The Subcommittee will soon advise regarding hearings on the trade agreements with Panama and South Korea.

Testifying on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers will be William D. Marsh, vice president legal – Western Hemisphere — for  Baker Hughes. Also scheduled to testify is Ambassador Miriam Sapiro of the U.S. Trade Representatives Office.

The USTR on Tuesday also hosts the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea on its annual visit to Washington, D.C. Last week U.S. and Colombian officials met in Washington to discuss the pending FTA. (Also here.)

The Miami Herald reports on President Obama’s upcoming trip to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador, “President Obama’s Latin agenda takes shape.”

Senators Tell Administration: Move All Three Trade Agreements

By | Trade | No Comments

U.S. Trade Representative Kirk testified on the President’s 2011 Trade Agenda at the Senate Finance Committee this morning. As expected, the focus was squarely on lack of progress on the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements. Unfortunately, despite an advance request by the Chairman and Ranking Member for a specific timetable on concluding the two agreements, Ambassador Kirk did not provide much of a road map on how the U.S. will proceed in addressing what the Administration feels are outstanding issues in both agreements.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk

When he appeared in front of the House Ways and Means Committee last month, Kirk promised the Administration wants to move the Korea trade agreement (KORUS) as soon as possible, and it would intensify efforts to resolve outstanding issues in the Colombia and Panama agreements so they could be moved as quickly as possible to Congress for approval –- by the end of 2011 if possible. At the time, we argued that all three agreements need to move as quickly as possible. We still absolutely believe this is the way things should proceed. The agreements with Colombia, Korea and Panama have languished since 2007, while our competitors in Europe and Asia continue to move aggressively to open those markets and gain preferential access for their manufactured goods exports.

The Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee made it very clear they feel the same way. Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) was crystal clear: “The time is long past to ratify the Colombia agreement,” said, continuing, “None of these agreements will pass unless they are all packaged together this year.” Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told Ambassador Kirk that he was tired of unfulfilled promises on Colombia and Panama. “It is the Administration’s inaction that speaks volumes – and these promises we’ve heard are inadequate,” the Senator said. Sen. Hatch pulled no punches in saying that he will view any attempt to move the KORUS FTA without action on Colombia and Panama in a very negative light. Read More

And the (Export) Winner is …Not Who You Think!

By | Economy, General, Trade | One Comment

The full-year 2010 trade data released last week by the Commerce Department show rapid export growth for America’s manufacturers –- up 20 percent over 2009. The data confirmed that big markets are important. In fact, the top 10 export markets for U.S. manufactured goods accounted for more than two-thirds of the entire export growth last year.

The large market winner in terms of percentage increase? Just about everyone would guess China, but it was actually Korea, with a 37 percent increase in U.S. manufactured goods exported to that country. (Think what we could have done if the pending trade agreement were already in effect!)

The runner-up was… Brazil, with a 34 percent increase in U.S. manufactured goods exports. China came in third, with 31 percent.

The winner in terms of the dollar increase in manufactured goods exports from the United States? Canada, with a $40 billion increase. Mexico came in second, at $31 billion, and China third, at $15 billion.

The full list of 2010’s Top 10 countries and their percentage increase as recipients of U.S. manufactured goods exports:

Note: Manufactured exports are NAICS 31-33, Census Bureau data as compiled from the USITC’s Dataweb.

Frank Vargo is vice president for international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers.

GE’s Immelt: A Blueprint for Keeping America Competitive

By | Economy, Energy, Innovation, Regulations, Trade | 3 Comments

The White House has announced that President Obama will sign an executive order creating the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The chairman will be Jeff Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric.

Immelt referred to the new council in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, saying it would comprise representatives of small and large businesses, labor, economists and government and expressing hope it would serve as “a sounding board for ideas and a catalyst for action on jobs and competitiveness.”

And what action does America need? Immelt identified manufacturing, exports and innovation as priorities. From “A blueprint for keeping America competitive“:

Manufacturing and exports: We need a coordinated commitment among business, labor and government to expand our manufacturing base and increase exports. The assumption made by many that the United States could transition from a technology-based, export-oriented economic powerhouse to a services-led, consumption-based economy without any serious loss of jobs, prosperity or prestige was fundamentally wrong. But there is nothing inevitable about America’s declining manufacturing competitiveness if we work together to reverse it. For example, we have returned many GE appliance manufacturing jobs to the States by collaborating with our unions and making our operations more efficient.

Working with Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, who leads the President’s Export Council, the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness will look for ways to harness the power of international markets – home to more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers. Currently, the United States ranks lowest among the world’s largest manufacturing nations in the ratio of domestically produced goods sold overseas, or export intensity. We must set as our highest economic priority not just increasing our exports, as the president has pledged, but also making the United States the world’s leading exporter in the 21st century.

Free trade: America cannot expand its manufacturing base without greatly increasing the volume of goods it sells overseas. That is why I applaud the free-trade agreement recently concluded between the United States and South Korea, which will eliminate barriers to U.S. exports and support export-oriented jobs. We should seek to conclude trade and investment agreements with other fast-growing markets and modernize our systems for export finance and trade control. Those who advocate increasing domestic manufacturing jobs by erecting trade barriers have it exactly wrong.

Immelt is scheduled to host President Obama on a tour of GE’s Schenectady operations this afternoon.

The White House is also letting it be known that competitiveness will be a major theme of the President’s State of the Union address next Tuesday.

Executive orders on regulations and now a council for jobs and competitiveness are good things. The President could demonstrate his support for policies to match the goals of the orders by acting quickly to submit the pending free trade agreements (Korea, Panama, Colombia) to Congress for enactment. And then rein in the EPA.

Korea — The No. 1 Major Growth Market for U.S. Manufacturers

By | Trade | One Comment

The latest Commerce Department trade data show that U.S. exports of manufactured goods are up 20.5 percent from the same period last year, fueled by rapid growth to some of our major markets. What is the fastest growing major market for U.S. manufactured goods exports so far this year? Just about everyone would say, “China.” But that’s the wrong answer.

U.S. manufactured goods exports to China this year are up as very strong 35 percent. But, China takes second place to Korea, where our exports are up a phenomenal 40 percent – putting Korea as the No. 1 fastest-growing major export market for U.S. manufacturers so far this year. Korean data corroborate that, showing that manufactured goods imports from the United States are growing faster than from any other major supplier.

U.S. manufacturers are racking up that growth despite Korea’s nearly 8 percent tariff and other trade hurdles. That shows U.S.-made manufactured goods are competitive and in hot demand in Korea. Just think how rapidly our exports to Korea could grow once Congress passes President Obama’s excellent U.S.–Korea Trade Promotion Agreement that would eliminate Korea’s tariffs on our manufactured goods and give us a big advantage over our competitors.

It is time for the Administration and the Congress to move as quickly as possible to implement all three pending trade agreements — with Colombia, Korea, and Panama. Every passing week costs us exports, competitiveness, and jobs.

Frank Vargo is the National Association of Manufacturers’ vice president for international economic affairs.

Broad, Wide, Deep and Strong Support for U.S.-Korea Trade Pact

By | Trade | One Comment

The White House has compiled statements of support for the newly agreed-upon U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, with endorsements from John Engler, President of the National Association of Manufacturers, and many others:

Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Representative Dave Camp (R-MI)
Representative Sander Levin (D-MI)
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA)
Rep. Kevin Brady (D-TX)

Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Company
Thomas J. Donohue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO
Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE
Jim McNerney, Chairman, President and CEO of The Boeing Company and Chairman of Business Roundtable’s International Engagement Initiative
Read More

U.S. Exports, Jobs Depend on All Three Pending Trade Agreements

By | Taxation, Trade | 3 Comments

President Obama met with members of the House Trade Working Group at the White House yesterday to hear their concerns  the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Meanwhile,  promising developments have occurred with the other two nations with which the United States has pending free trade agreements – Panama and Colombia.

Panama and the United States came to agreement on a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA), which is one of the outstanding issues that the Administration has indicated needed to be concluded before it would consider moving the U.S.-Panama FTA. Anything that can remove an impediment to a part of the stalled trade agenda is a very good thing.

Of course, over the last few months the business community’s focus has been squarely on the Administration’s discussions aimed at getting a final deal on the U.S.-Korea FTA. If those discussions over resolving the disputes over beef and autos are successful — and it is a shame they weren’t finalized in Seoul last week – that trade agreement could be sent to Congress early in 2011.  U.S. manufacturing exports to Korea are in the neighborhood of $25-30 billion annually over the last few years, and Korea has a manufacturing import sector worth $250 billion annually – so it’s a big deal.

During this same period, the Administration has been working closely with Panama, and with a successful TIEA, we could conceivably see (and we HOPE to see) movement on that trade agreement as well in 2011. Panama is engaged in the largest civil works project on earth right now (expanding the Panama Canal), and it would be fantastic for U.S. companies to be exporting duty-free the equipment, materials, engineering services and everything else this $5 billion project needs as soon as possible.

This leaves us with our last pending trade agreement – Colombia — and as the country’s new Ambassador Gabriel Silva recently told reporters, Colombia has been removed from the International Labor Organization’s watch list because of widespread improvements his government has made in controlling violence against labor activists. This goes to the heart of what the Administration and some Congressional Democrats have been asking for; Colombia is to be commended for its long commitment, under both previous President Uribe and current President Santos, in pushing for improvements. Read More

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

Resolve Beef and Auto Issues, Then Move on Korean Trade Deal

By | Trade | One Comment

News accounts today reflect determination both by top U.S. and Korean officials that the outstanding auto and beef issues in the U.S.-Korea FTA will be addressed by the Seoul G-20 meeting on Nov. 11 and 12. From the U.S. side, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs and Development Michael Froman said yesterday at a White House press briefing: “We will be putting every effort into achieving an acceptable agreement, a satisfactory agreement by the time the president goes to the G-20.” Mr. Froman also noted that the U.S. negotiators are expending “maximum effort” in order to resolve “all of the issues” related to the KORUS agreement.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a speech in Honolulu on Oct. 28, noted that the U.S. and Korea “enjoy a vibrant economic relationship, which is why our two Presidents have called for resolving the outstanding issues related to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement by the time of the G-20 meeting in Seoul.” Secretary Clinton returned to trade later in her speech, noting not only the importance of the KORUS FTA but its key starting role in a larger U.S. pro-trade agenda for 2011 focused on Asia-Pacific.

This messaging is also reflected in today’s Korean press, which are reporting that President Obama and President Lee talked by phone. Korea’s official news agency Yonhap reports “In their telephone talks, the leaders agreed that the FTA ‘should be forged to promote free trade in the world and upgrade the South Korea-U.S. alliance by a notch,’ and that “they agreed to try to reach a compromise before the Seoul G-20 summit from Nov. 11-12.”

It is a very positive sign when very senior officials continue to reiterate their hope and desire to wrap up discussions on the automotive and beef issues still outstanding in the KORUS FTA as the deadline approaches. It is also a good sign that these talks are referred to on both sides as “discussions” rather than “negotiations.” Secretary Clinton’s remarks that put the KORUS agreement at the head of an ambitious trade agenda are heartening. We would suggest that our pending FTAs with Colombia and Panama also be added to that agenda (both border the Pacific Ocean). But this all hinges on finalizing a deal on autos and beef. We encourage both sides to keep moving forward over the next 10 days.

The National Association of Manufacturers has been a strong supporter of the KORUS agreement, but has also always said that more was needed to address the auto industry’s concerns on market access in Korea. We are hopeful that agreement on this is near.