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Is Korea FTA Job Loss, Deficit Growth a Harbinger of TPP?

March 17th, 2014 | Mike Hall

Image: Mike HallThe U.S.–Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS–FTA) turns 2 years old Saturday and imports from Korea continue to flood into the United States, costing workers their jobs. Exports to Korea have failed to live up to the promises made when the agreement passed Congress, says United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo W. Gerard. The agreement, he says:

Has failed to produce good jobs and the evidence on exports is clear. Our export growth rate in the past 20 out of 21 months is below the average monthly level seen before the FTA was signed.

Despite promises of U.S. job growth and improvements in trade balances (similar to what we’re hearing about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement [TPP])—Gerard says imports from Korea are up by 4% and:

The monthly U.S. trade deficit with Korea has ballooned 45 percent when compared to the pre-FTA level. The damage from KORUS and other free trade deals have been shown by the Economic Policy Institute to have caused the loss of tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs.

He warns that if TPP has the same negative and growing impact as KORUS, America’s job losses and the effect of trade imbalances will multiply.

Read more from the USW.

In related trade news, there is still time for you to sign the petition to Congress to stop the legislation (H.R. 3830/S. 1900) that would give Fast Track trade authority approval for all major trade agreements over the next four years, including the TPP.

Under the Fast Track process, Congress can only vote yes or no on the full agreement. It cannot amend, improve or fix any flaws in the bill. The North American Free Trade Agreement and other job-killing trade deals were approved via Fast Track.

This article was originally printed on AFL-CIO on March 14, 2014.  Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journaland managing editor of the Seafarers Log.  He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.

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