Tag: U.S.-Korea trade agreement

World Not Waiting for U.S. on Trade Agreements

It is no secret other countries are racing ahead with trade agreements while the U.S. stands idly by. There are 120 free trade agreements being negotiated around the world, and the U.S. is a party to just one.

As for pending trade pacts, the U.S. free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea have languished for four years.  (But see this post from Monday for a dose of optimism.)

Those countries aren’t waiting for the U.S.  The Wall Street Journal reports today that Colombia is seeking to increase its trade ties with China.

Colombian lawmakers passed legislation they hope will open the floodgates of trade with China, where the government plans two high-level trade missions over the next three months, as a long-delayed U.S. trade deal with the South American nation stalls in Congress.

Colombia Trade Minister Sergio Díaz-Granados said Tuesday’s passage of the “Chinese Trade Promotion and Protection” bill—which affords China certain legal guarantees on its investments in Colombia—could also propel talks with China to build a railway that would link Colombia’s Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and would serve as an alternative to the Panama Canal.

Trade officials in Bogotá expressed frustration with the slow pace of progress in Washington, which they say contrasts with Chinese eagerness to invest in Colombia, Washington’s closest ally in South America.

In an interview, Mr. Díaz-Granados said he remained hopeful a free-trade pact with the U.S. would be passed before year’s end, but that Colombia can no longer “sit with its arms crossed, waiting.”

“We’ve been talking about a U.S.-Colombia free trade deal for 20 years, and it’s certainly the trade deal we want more than any other,” Mr. Díaz-Granados said. “But in the meantime, we have to continue working in other directions. Our business leaders need to pursue other markets and diversify.”

The U.S. has been waiting for too long.  Every day that lawmakers sit on the trade agreements is a day the country is missing out on opportunities for growth and jobs.

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As Korea Trade Agreement Waits, U.S. Influence Ebbs in Asia

Ambassador Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative, and his Korean counterpart, Trade Minister Kim, are meeting in San Francisco today to discuss issues surrounding the automotive and beef provisions in the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement. You will recall that this summer, President Obama met with Korean President Lee and announced the two countries would discuss outstanding issues on autos and beef where the U.S. government had some concerns.

President Obama set the November 11-12 2010 G-20 meeting in Seoul as the date by which these discussions should be concluded and an agreement reached for submission to Congress.

So, there’s a lot riding on the meeting today between Kirk and Kim. As I noted yesterday in a Reuters article, no one expects the two Trade Ministers to come to an agreement today – but it’s a great opportunity for them to have an in-depth, frank and open discussion on what needs to be done and how it can be done. This meeting will, if past history is any guide, be followed by additional discussions and meetings, leading up to an agreement that President’s Obama and Lee can at some point around the G-20 meetings.

The National Association of Manufacturers certainly encourages the two Ministers to keep talking and moving forward. This agreement is extremely important to manufacturing in America – Korea is one of our largest trade partners and an key export market for our manufacturing products. Manufactured goods are almost two-thirds of all U.S. exports of goods and services to Korea.  I don’t discount the key importance the agreement has to our agriculture and services sectors, but this is overwhelmingly a manufacturing agreement.

There are clear economic consequences if an agreement cannot be reached. On Monday, U.S.  columnist Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute had a piece, “Korea Pact Essential to the U.S.” published in The Australian newspaper. He started off by noting:

US unemployment remains high. China is ever more confident and has displaced America as the No 1 trading partner with leading East Asian states. How have the Obama administration and Democratic congress responded to these challenges? By retreating economically from Asia. The US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement sits unratified in Washington. This policy was remarkable for both its economic and geostrategic folly.

My emphasis. I should note the Australians are racing toward the finish line of their own bilateral FTA with Korea. Bandow continues: (continue reading…)

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Preparing for Action on U.S.-Korea Trade

From Reuters, “U.S., S.Korea to meet on long-stalled free trade pact“, reporting on today’s meeting in San Francisco between U.S. and Korean trade officials to work on the major issues slowing enactment of a bilateral free trade agreement — notably beef and U.S. auto exports.

Doug Goudie, director of international trade policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, said he did not expect the two sides to announce a deal on Tuesday.

“But I would hope their discussions tomorrow put them a long way down the road toward an agreement on the outstanding issues,” Goudie said.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is meeting today with Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon.

The NAM’s Goudie recently returned from a business delegation’s trip to Korea. His reports are available below:

Earlier posts:

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