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United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KIND. I rise in strong support of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement today as I have in support of Colombia and Panama as well.

Madam Speaker, the Korea trade agreement is another example of President Obama and his team at USTR, led by Ambassador Kirk, inheriting what I thought were three pretty good trade agreements when they assumed office, but realizing there was room for improvement, and much to the credit of the chairman and the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, we got that crucial improvement with Korea over two vital sectors of the U.S. economy--automobiles and beef.

More specifically for the State of Wisconsin, which is the largest cranberry-producing State in the Nation, this enables us to get back into the game with meaningful exports going into the Korean market. Each day we wait to pass this agreement, Chile captures more market share, affecting the ability to export and the job creation that we desperately need back home.

It's also true for one of the largest manufacturers and, therefore, one of the largest employers in my district in western Wisconsin, located in my hometown of La Crosse. Right now, the goods and products that they're making at that La Crosse plant face an 8 percent tariff barrier to the export into the Korean market. With the passage of this agreement, that tariff goes down to zero, which is the point of all of these trade agreements, that we're leveling the playing field for our workers and our businesses so they can compete more effectively and fairly in gaining greater market access to Korea, to Colombia, and to Panama.

These won't be the panaceas to the job creation we need at home, but they are important steps in the right direction. They all contain vital international labor and environmental standards in the bulk of the agreements, fully enforceable with all other provisions. That has been a significant improvement as far as the elevation of standards globally and the leveling of the playing field for our businesses and our workers at home, which cannot be discounted.

Again, I commend the members of the Ways and Means Committee, the leadership there, and especially President Obama and his USTR team in taking these three trade agreements, improving upon them, and making sure that the ``open for business'' sign is over the United States of America again so we can pursue a meaningful economic engagement throughout the rest of the world.


Mr. KIND. I do subscribe to Cordell Hull's theory on trade. He once stated that trade is more than just goods and products crossing borders because, when that occurs, armies don't.

These are an important tool in our diplomatic arsenal and also part of the answer to the economic growth that we need desperately in this country.

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