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Korea-U.S. Trade Agreement Addresses Liberal Concerns

By December 13, 2010

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The Obama administration's recently announced, renegotiated U.S. - South Korea free trade agreement holds solid potential to energize the U.S. economy over the next few years and decades.

Democrats should be pleased because this, Obama's first trade agreement, appears to adequately address liberal concerns on U.S. trade policy as:

  • Environmental protections
  • Protection of workers' fundamental rights
  • Sufficient, credible balance of trade advantages for U.S. businesses
  • Jobs creation opportunities for U.S. businesses

Said President Obama last week, "The deal that we've struck includes strong protections for workers' rights and environmental standards--and as a consequence, I believe it's a model for future trade agreements that I will pursue." Industries expected to be among top beneficiaries of this agreement with South Korea, a nation with 49 million residents, include auto, agricultural and financial services.

The United Auto Workers and United Food and Commercial Workers unions support Mr. Obama's U.S. - Korea Free Trade Agreement, although the AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers' unions believe that this agreement still falls "short of protecting the broad interests of American workers and their counterparts around the world in these uncertain economic times," per the Wall Street Journal, which continued on:

"AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, in a statement, praised the Obama administration for negotiating changes to the original 2007 proposed Korea-US pact that 'give some much needed breathing room to the auto industry.'"

When approved in 2011 by the 112th Congress.... which I absolutely believe will occur with few changes... the Republic of Korea - United State Free Trade Agreement will be the first U.S. trade agreement with a major Asian country, and the largest American free trade agreement enacted since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993.

As I wrote last summer, President Obama's various trade initiatives impress me as innovative and long-overdue... as well thought-out policies that stand a terrific chance at making a respectable dent, over time, in the U.S. trade deficit.

This Korea-U.S. trade agreement is the first fruit of long, hard work by the U.S. Commerce department under President Obama to negotiate smart, profitable U.S. trade agreements that seem to honor protections that liberals have been pushing for almost two decades, including:

  • Labor standards and workers' rights
  • Sanitary measures
  • Environmental protection and conservation issues
  • Boosting small businesses
  • Protecting intellectual property rights

For a one-page summary, see Profile of U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement. Also, take the time to read other pieces I've written about U.S. trade policies:

Count me as tentatively optimistic: President Obama's determination to negotiate aggressive yet fair trade policies may be the saving grace of our ailing economy.

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