Hare Statement on the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement
Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), a member of the House Trade Working Group, today released the following statement in response to U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab's remarks to the Korea Free Trade Agreement Business Coalition at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"With the Colombia FTA going nowhere, the Bush Administration is now trying to resuscitate another unfair trade deal with South Korea.
"The Korea FTA would give Korean automakers open access to the U.S. market without requiring Seoul to dismantle its non-tariff barriers that have kept the Korean market virtually closed to U.S. built automotive products. In 2006, Korea exported 700,000 cars to the United States while U.S. carmakers sold only 4,000 in Korea. As a result, our automotive trade deficit with Korea now stands at $11 billion.
"In March of last year, a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders wrote President Bush asking him to include a proposal to open Korea's automotive market in any trade agreement reached. Unfortunately, Ambassador Schwab flatly rejected their proposal.
"In addition, Korea continues to have a troubling record on labor rights. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions strongly opposes this agreement in large part because of restrictions on the freedom of association for public sector workers and other provisions in Korea's laws that limit the right to organize and bargain collectively.
"I welcomed the recent announcement by Ambassador Schwab that South Korea was lifting its ban on American made beef. This is excellent news for the many beef producers in my district. But the Korea FTA still has a long way to go before I can lend it my support.
"Completely opening up our markets to Korean automakers while their government continues to take steps to deny our imports is a slap in the face to struggling U.S. autoworkers. I believe that any future trade deal must include a level playing field so America has a fair chance to compete. The Korea FTA falls far short and we should oppose it."