Washington, DC–Following news that the US Trade Representative was launching negotiations for a free trade agreement with South Korea, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement.
“For too long, USTR has focused its limited resources on negotiating small trade agreements with small markets. The announcement of negotiations today with South Korea, our seventh largest trading partner, suggests a shift toward more meaningful markets. I have long had concerns about the U.S. FTA strategy, and I think that in the case of South Korea, with which the U.S. had about a $16 billion trade deficit in 2005, the USTR must be very careful that this agreement strikes the right balance for our economic future.”
“Americans have been shocked in recent weeks as tens of thousands of workers in our nation’s auto industry have been laid off. The health of the U.S. auto industry for years to come is critical to the health care and retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Americans. South Korea has steadfastly refused to open its markets to American automobiles, and has ignored two previous agreements with the U.S. to do so. It remains one of the most closed automobile markets in the world. If Americans are to support free trade with South Korea and if Congress is to support this agreement, USTR must ensure the end of South Korea’s discrimination against our autos. Credibility will require more than rhetoric, it will require actual access to the South Korean market.”