Over the weekend at the G-20 summit in Canada, President Obama announced that he would seek ratification of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) before his November visit to Seoul. I am disappointed that just as the economy is emerging from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, he would even consider the job-killing Korea FTA.
Without fail, every Administration in my adult life regardless of party has pushed unfair trade. Whether it's NAFTA or CAFTA or having normalized trade relations with China, these policies continue to wreak havoc on our local economy. I first got involved in politics 30 years ago after witnessing the plight of workers and communities harmed by unfair trade. Time and time again, we have heard that trade will give our producers access to new markets and boost our economy. But for those of us in West-Central Illinois, we know all too well that the main export of unfair trade deals is good-paying jobs.
President Obama made the unpopular but necessary decision to provide aid to the auto industry last year. But if he is successful in ratifying an unfair trade agreement with Korea, it will reverse much of the progress that has been made. America's auto industry and workforce are finally back on their feet. This trade agreement would knock them down again. The 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. As a reminder, Korea exported 476,833 cars to the United States in 2009 while U.S. carmakers sold only 5,878 in Korea. As a result, our automotive trade deficit with Korea now stands at $7.8 billion. In addition, Korea continues to promote unreasonable restrictions on U.S. beef, a slap in the face to our farmers.
We cannot afford any more trade deals that put American workers at a disadvantage. Click here to watch parts of my interview with WQAD Newschannel 8 on this issue. To read more comments on trade and other issues, please follow me on Facebook.
Member of Congress