Today, Representative Mike Michaud (D-Maine), Chairman of the House Trade Working Group, issued a statement on tomorrow's one-year anniversary of the implementation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Michaud is currently circulating a bipartisan letter among his congressional colleagues that will urge President Obama to address currency manipulation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
"This anniversary provides an opportunity for Congress and USTR to assess the impacts of the Korea Free Trade Agreement and apply the lessons learned to the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
"I remain concerned the agreement will further the decline of U.S. manufacturing and will send American jobs overseas. That's why I was troubled by Ambassador Kirk's request to study the agreement's impact only on exports from American small- and medium-enterprises. I have written a letter urging USTR to study the agreement's effect on imports, too. It's critical that we evaluate our trade agreements comprehensively if we are to improve upon existing policy.
"In addition, I remain concerned about Korea's exchange rate, particularly since our trade deficit with Korea has increased in the last year. I wrote a letter to Treasury asking them to provide specific information about their ongoing efforts to respond to Korea's undervalued currency, and I have continued to press the Administration to address misaligned exchange rates among all our trading partners, including Korea.
"As more of this agreement gets implemented and currency manipulation goes unaddressed, I'm worried that the resulting effects on U.S. manufacturers and workers will be devastating. USTR and the White House must study both the benefits and the consequences of the Korea agreement so we can learn from our mistakes. We need honest accounting, not just an analysis that backs up preexisting agendas. Most importantly, the Administration must apply the lessons learned to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That means making sure the agreement promotes and expands U.S. manufacturing here at home and holds our trading partners accountable for their exchange rates."