EU-Korea Trade Pact Will Hurt U.S. Without its Own FTA

As the European Union signs a trade pact with South Korea, U.S. manufacturers are calling on policymakers to approve the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement or risk losing a greater share of that lucrative export market to its competitors. U.S. goods producers note that already the EU is ahead of the U.S. in exports to Korea, and the EU trade agreement will heighten that disparity unless the U.S. ratifies its own trade pact:

The European Union (EU) will implement its FTA with Korea early next year. As a result, European manufacturers will see tariffs removed on nearly every product they export to Korea – while American manufacturers continue to face tariffs averaging nearly 12 percent. This will be a significant blow to American manufacturers — one that we can ill-afford in this economic climate. This is not an idle threat – the EU is not only a significant competitor to the United States in manufactured goods exports to Korea, they are actually ahead of us. (See chart.) With this FTA, they will reap the benefits of zero tariffs, stronger protection for investments, and the removal of myriad non-tariff barriers.

President Obama has promised to push for the U.S.-Korea FTA in mid-November. With all the talk about doubling exports in 5 years, the Korea trade pact should be on the top of his action list.