U.S. Representatives Dave Reichert (WA-8), Peter Roskam (IL-6), and Erik Paulsen (MN-3), three co-chairs of the bipartisan congressional working group launched earlier this year to broaden support for the pending U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, today issued the following statements in response to news that trade negotiators missed a deadline to resolve outstanding differences:
"We commend US trade officials for making progress on the Free Trade Agreement with Korea and encourage the negotiators to continue working out their differences on the long-stalled agreement. The US-Korea FTA is far too important for either party to walk away," said Congressman Paulsen. "America's trade partnership with Korea is vital to our long-term economic growth and job creation. Without it, we'll effectively cede a key Asian market to the European Union, Australia, India, Japan and other major competitor nations."
"I am deeply disappointed that negotiations to resolve the outstanding issues with our pending free trade agreement with South Korea have so far been unsuccessful," Congressman Reichert said. "As our country continues to face difficult economic challenges, it is absolutely essential that we open new markets for U.S. exports and implement this agreement that has the potential to create thousands of American jobs. The KORUS FTA is the most commercially significant agreement the U.S. has negotiated in 16 years, and each day it languishes is another day our country falls behind. I will continue doing all I can to move this process forward and encourage Korean trade negotiators to swiftly return to the table in good faith to get this deal done before the end of the year."
From Seoul, South Korea, where he has been meeting with top trade officials to urge completion of the agreement, Congressman Roskam observed: "Strengthening ties with our democratic ally South Korea is critical not only to grow the American economy, but also to serve as a strong counterweight to China's increasing influence and aggression in the region. After constructive meetings with Korean leaders this week, I was disappointed that momentum towards a final trade agreement has slowed. I am hopeful that U.S. and Korean negotiators will redouble their efforts to achieve an accord that will level the playing field for American manufacturers and help grow both our countries' economies."