Obama wants KORUS, a NAFTA-style Korea free trade agreement

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 By

Cover of a Korean graphic novel about Barack Obama.

President Obama is popular in South Korea, thanks to the KORUS trade agreement. In America, the jury is still out. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Timber Tank/Flickr)

In a recent act he called cementing a “strong alliance with South Korea,” President Obama signed the Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). While the president lauded the agreement on a variety of fronts, FireDogLake.com founder Jane Hamsher writes in a Huffington Post piece that KORUS amounts to an exchange of 159,000 American jobs lost for 800 jobs gained.

UAW leader gives KORUS thumbs up

United Auto Workers President Bob King has endorsed the NAFTA-style KORUS agreement, as have Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Vikram Pandit of Citigroup, Tom Donahue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and John Engler of the National Association of Manufacturers. However, non-management personnel in the UAW are much less enthusiastic, as the Korea free trade agreement appears to have many of the same mechanisms that paved the way for the original NAFTA to send hundreds of thousands of American jobs out of the country. Yet auto industry management interests are well-served by KORUS, Hamsher reports.

Other labor unions appear to be on the verge of taking a bath because of KORUS, as highlighted by the fact that building trade unions under the AFL-CIO banner were essentially kept away from the bargaining table with Korea, reports the Huffington Post. Reports indicate that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis allegedly “pressured” various labor presidents into accepting the terms of KORUS.

‘Fair trade’: give 159,000 jobs, get 800

In total, it is believed that the UAW will be given the green light to produce 55,000 more cars under KORUS, which amounts to 800 new jobs, according to a Congressional Research Service report. Yet according to the Economic Policy Institute, the floundering U.S. job market as a whole will lose 159,000 jobs over the next five years with a NAFTA-style KORUS agreement in place. This stands in stark contrast to the president’s own pronouncements over the Korea free trade agreement; he says an easing of tariffs will amount to a projected $11 billion for the U.S. via an expanded export market. That would mean 70,000 additional American jobs as the country’s export market effectively doubles over the same five-year period, Obama claims. KORUS still must pass the legislatures of the U.S. and South Korea, and there is speculation that the South Korean legislature will be more difficult to win over, reports Tax News.

Sources

Huffington Post

Tax News

President Obama’s KORUS announcement

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