Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), East Asia and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Jim Webb (D-VA), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Mark Begich (D-AK), along with five Democratic senators, today endorsed the President's call for a prompt resolution of outstanding issues to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA). In a letter to President Obama, the senators argue that it is in the economic and security interests of the United States to move forward on the KORUS FTA.
"President Obama has made clear he wants to work with our ally South Korea to resolve legitimate concerns and smooth the way for passage of the trade agreement. This is an important step in meeting the President's goal of doubling American exports over the next five years to create good American jobs," said Senator Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "South Korea is one of our closest allies, and swift movement on KORUS will help underscore both our relationship and our commitment to security and prosperity in East Asia. When Seoul hosts the G-20 meeting this November, I am optimistic that the United States will be able to point to substantial progress on KORUS as an example of America's reengagement with the region."
"The passage of this agreement will send a strong signal to our ally, the Republic of Korea, and the rest of the region that the United States will follow through on its commitments and intends to remain deeply engaged in East Asia," said Senator Webb, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs. "The United States, the Republic of Korea, and all of East Asia stand to benefit from the implementation of this agreement. I support the President's decision to resolve the concerns of a few key industries by November, and I will do my part in the Senate to ensure that it is approved."
"As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, creating jobs and putting our economy back on the right track is my top priority. Opening more markets for agricultural producers will help Arkansas farmers, ranchers and rural communities who have felt the devastating effects of the current economic climate. I am very pleased that the President made a public commitment at the G-20 meeting to resolve outstanding issues with respect to the Korea Free Trade Agreement, and bring it to Congress for approval by the end of this year. Once it is passed by Congress, the implementation of this FTA will represent a major step toward reaching the goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years," said Senator Lincoln, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
This trade agreement will create jobs for Americans here at home, strengthen our economy, and bolster our alliance with South Korea," Senator Lieberman, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said. "When the President submits this critical initiative to Congress, there will be a strong coalition of Democrats who are ready and eager to fight for its passage."
"As the state closest to the Pacific Rim, free trade with countries such as South Korea is essential to the economy of Alaska and our nation. I'm pleased to support the Korean Free Trade Agreement, which will serve as another hallmark of progress between Alaska, the U.S. and Korea," said Senator Mark Begich.
The full text of the letter is below:
July 20, 2010
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write to applaud your call for a prompt resolution of outstanding issues to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) this year and to reiterate our strong support for such action. Your announcement concerning the KORUS FTA at the recent G-20 summit is a strong affirmation to our ally, the Republic of Korea, and the world of the U.S. commitment to security and prosperity in the Asia Pacific, open markets, and the rules-based trading system. We share your commitment to addressing the outstanding issues with the Agreement, including trade in beef and autos, and securing congressional approval in an expeditious manner.
It should be emphasized that the KORUS FTA is an agreement between two mature economies, and has the potential to strengthen commercial and trade ties between our countries. New export opportunities can generate good-paying American jobs and contribute to our economic recovery. Critical sectors of the U.S. economy, including manufactured goods, technology, services, and agriculture, will grow through expanded trade with our seventh-largest trading partner.
We also believe that passage of the KORUS FTA will advance our political engagement with South Korea and demonstrate the maturity and strength of this relationship as we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. This agreement will reinforce our commitment to a vital alliance in a region that, as recent events remind us, is still coping with that war's unfinished legacy.
The United States, South Korea, and the entire region stand to benefit from the swift approval and implementation of this agreement. Failure to bring the KORUS FTA to a swift resolution could have wide-ranging repercussions for U.S. engagement and influence in the Asia Pacific, as well as our leadership position on open markets and mutually beneficial trade.
We look forward to your prompt submission of the Agreement to the Congress, and we stand by to assist you in resolving any outstanding issues in order to ensure that this Agreement garners widespread support and is approved by the Congress in an expeditious fashion.
Cc: Senators Kerry, Webb, Warner, Lincoln, Feinstein, Akaka, Lieberman, Cantwell, Begich, Inouye