Business groups support Korea trade pact

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office just posted quotes from major corporations and business groups voicing strong support for the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The trade deal was concluded on April 1, 2007, and, as required by law, President Bush notified Congress of his intent to enter into this agreement.

USTR advisory committees completed their reviews of the agreement, and their comments have been sent on to Congress, which must ratify the FTA. The April 1 transmittal to Congress just made the deadline of 90 days before the president’s Trade Promotion Authority expires — June 30 — which means that the agreement would face an up-or-down vote with no amendments.

Don’t expect an easy passage. With the mood of Congressional leaders toward greater protectionism, the Korea deal is likely to be hotly contested.

As shown in the quotes on the USTR website, most business groups are very supportive of the FTA. Here’s an example:

Korea is a very substantial market for the United States, with U.S. goods exports to Korea totaling $32.5 billion in 2006 and U.S. cross-border services exports to Korea reaching $10.2 billion in 2005…The U.S.-Korea FTA will greatly expand market access in Korea for U.S. farmers, manufacturers, service providers, and financial services firms. Under the FTA, more than half of current U.S. agricultural exports to Korea—with a value of $1.6 billion—will become duty-free immediately. Almost 95 percent of all bilateral trade in consumer and industrial products will become duty-free within three years under the agreement…Moreover, this agreement will eliminate significant non-tariff market access barriers in Korea. Consumers in both countries stand to gain from the broad benefits of this agreement…This agreement includes robust provisions on transparency, intellectual property rights, competition, investment, and other rules, particularly in the area of services, that will protect U.S. interests…By giving U.S. exporters and investors a preferential position in the world’s tenth-largest economy, an FTA with Korea will enhance U.S. businesses’ ability to compete in the dynamic Northeast Asia regional economy. From a strategic vantage point, the FTA will reinforce the critical partnership and alliance between our two countries. The U.S.-Korea FTA stands to bring real benefits for U.S. workers and businesses…The members of the Coalition look forward to working…to obtain passage of this historic agreement.

-Letter from the U.S.-Korea FTA Business Coalition to Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, signed by over 150 companies, trade associations, and agriculture groups