Oppose the KORUS Trade Agreement
The KORUS: A Bad Choice for Leftovers Three years ago, President Bush signed the KORUS Free Trade Agreement on June 30, 2007. Because of poorly negotiated provisions concerning cars and catfish – refrigerators and rice – as well as TV sets and beef, this FTA couldn’t muster enough support to pass through congress under the Bush Administration. Enter your zip code to contact elected officials today.
But it may be brought up for a vote now.
The Chamber of Commerce is making a massive push for passage in 2010. Please contact congress today and ask them to oppose President Bush’s leftover Korea Free Trade Agreement unless it is rewritten.
We need to make sure the Korea FTA is the ending point for the last administration, not a starting point for the new one.
The KORUS: A Bad Choice for Leftovers
Three years ago, President Bush signed the KORUS Free Trade Agreement on June 30, 2007. Because of poorly negotiated provisions concerning cars and catfish – refrigerators and rice – as well as TV sets and beef, this FTA couldn’t muster enough support to pass through congress under the Bush Administration.
Enter your zip code to contact elected officials today.
Three ways to contact your elected officials
1) By Email: Contact them all at once by entering your zip code above, editing the sample message, and personalizing it as you wish. Be sure to ask for a written response letter.
2) By Phone: Call 202-224-3121, give your zip code, and request the capitol operator connect you to your Senator or Representative. When you get the office, confidently ask to speak to the “Trade Staff Person.” Make the points in the letter below, and request the official come out publicly against the trade deal. Be sure to leave your address, and ask for a written reply.
3) By Mail: Go old school. Visit www.congress.org and send paper snail mail. Type in your zip code, click on representative, and go to the “contact” tab. Send a postcard or letter to the Washington D.C. postal address.
- *For every one car we import to Korea, they import 175 into the United States.
- *At the end of 2008, the U.S. ran a $13.4 billion trade deficit with Korea, of which $10.5 billion was concentrated in the autos and auto parts sector.
- *Korea produced 3.8 million motor vehicles and exported 70% of them. By contrast, the U.S. exported only 10,377 vehicles to Korea, of which only 6,980 were American-made vehicles from Ford, Chrysler or General Motors.
- *Despite the concentration of the trade deficit in a single sector, and its sheer size, the USTR refused to table the proposals offered by labor, industry, and by Congress to rectify this trade imbalance.
- *The auto provisions of this current agreement are unlikely to open the door for more than a handful of vehicles from U.S. auto companies.
- *Even fewer of those vehicles are likely to be made in the United States, further undermining any potential benefits for American workers.
- *These provisions must be renegotiated.
- *Korean labor law must be reformed. It puts substantial constraints on the right to freely associate, to strike and to bargain collectively.
- *We should not accept the agreement until Korea brings its laws into compliance with rights stated under the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
- *All too often, Korean employers turn to police and private security forces to resolve industrial disputes over wages and working conditions.
- *There is potential for the inclusion of goods from the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a free trade zone located in North Korea, in Annex 22-B of the FTA.
- *Many in labor have grave concerns about the lack of basic labor rights in the KIC and the impact on jobs and wages of the exports of these goods -- produced at perhaps the lowest wage levels in the world.
- *The minimal labor protections written into the Annex may do little for North Korean workers.
- *The investment chapter still affords foreign investors greater rights than those enjoyed by U.S. investors. President Obama repeatedly promised to change this during the campaign.
- *Not one word was changed in the Korea FTAs’ foreign investor chapters that promote off-shoring, and subjects our domestic environmental, zoning, health and other public interest policies to challenge by foreign investors in foreign tribunals.
- *As with the investment chapters of previous agreements like NAFTA, there are concerns about KORUS rules on expropriation, its broad definition of what constitutes an investment and the vague and open-endedness of the fair and equitable treatment standard.
- *This agreement’s deeply flawed investor-to-state dispute resolution mechanism contains none of the controls, such as exhaustion requirements, a standing appellate mechanism or a diplomatic screen, that could limit abuse of this private right of action.
- *The KORUS FTA succeeds in giving us new causes for concern due to unprecedented language and the expansion of the scope of property.
- *The Korea FTA also allows challenges by foreign investors in foreign tribunals of timber, mining, construction and other concession contracts with the U.S. federal government.
- *Food Safety Provisions. The amended text does not address limits on imported food safety and inspection. The KORUS FTA still contains language requiring the United States to accept imported food that does not meet our safety standards.
- *Procurement Provisions. The KORUS FTA rules subject many common federal and state procurement policies to challenge in trade tribunals, and directly forbid other common procurement policies. These procurement rules continue the NAFTA/CAFTA ban on anti-off-shoring and Buy America policies, exposing U.S. renewable energy, recycled content and other environmental safety requirements to challenge.
- *Agriculture Provisions. Multinational grain trading and food processing companies have made enormous profits while farmers on both ends have been hurt. Continuing this model is projected to increase hunger, illicit drug cultivation and undocumented migration. It will continue the race to the bottom for commodity prices, pitting farmer against farmer and country against country to see who can produce food the cheapest, regardless of standards on labor, the environment or food safety.
- *Access to Medicines. While the amended text of these FTAs removes the most egregious, CAFTA-based provisions limiting the access to affordable medicines, the text still includes NAFTA provisions that undermine the right to affordable medicines for poorer countries contained in the WTO’s Doha Declaration.