WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) urged the Administration to learn from the lessons of its free trade agreement with South Korea (KORUS FTA) and ensure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) removes all non-tariff barriers to trade and also includes enforceable currency provisions. Two years ago, the United States signed KORUS FTA. Since its enactment, Brown argued that South Korea’s non-tariff barriers and currency intervention have put American auto producers at a competitive disadvantage.

“One in every eight Ohio jobs is connected to the auto industry. That means that unfair trade practices that hurt American autos disproportionately affect Ohio workers,” Brown said. “The Administration must learn from the lessons of KORUS FTA and address non-tariff barriers and currency manipulation in future free trade agreements like TPP. Taking this action would strengthen Ohio’s economy by enabling our auto industry to compete.”    

Today’s hearing follows recent interest by South Korea to join TPP negotiations, which already includes major auto producer Japan. Brown cited the United States’ auto trade imbalance as evidence that our industry has been hurt. Last year, Korea exported 752,675 automobiles to the U.S., while the U.S. exported only 27,553 autos to Korea. This imbalance accounted for more than 90 percent of our overall trade deficit with South Korea last year. 

Specifically, Brown contended that:

  • South Korea’s CAFE/CO2 standards are more aggressive than the U.S. equivalent and fail to provide adjusted standards for small volume importers;
  • South Korea’s proposed fuel economy audits are too stringent and would make it more difficult for American autos to meet Korean standards and to compete; and
  • South Korea’s proposal that defective cars indefinitely be recalled, instead of the American 10 year standard, disproportionately hurts foreign autos. 

Among those testifying at today’s hearing was Stephen Biegun, the Vice President of International Governmental Affairs for the Ford Motor Company. In February, Brown applauded a speech by a high-level Ford Company executive that called for the Obama Administration to ensure strong currency manipulation measures in TPP. Brown is the author of bipartisan legislation that would stand up for American workers and businesses when countries cheat by manipulating their currency.

In March 2013, Brown joined a group of more than 50 senators in urging President Obama to put the best interests of American workers and businesses first as negotiations continued with Japan on its potential entry to the TPP. Brown and his colleagues specifically cited Japan’s longstanding efforts to impose trade barriers and block U.S. exports as actions that have hurt the American economy, domestic job creation, and specifically its auto industry.

In early 2009, Brown was a strong advocate for the American auto rescue which helped protect Ohio’s auto industry. In November 2008, he introduced S. 3175, the Auto Industry Emergency Bridge Loan Act, with a bipartisan group of colleagues. In December 2008, Brown fought to ensure that funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) were allocated to aid the Big 3 and American auto suppliers—despite near-unanimous opposition from most House and Senate Republicans. One in every eight Ohio jobs is connected to the auto industry; one in every six cars produced in the United States is made in Ohio; and 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties are home to an auto manufacturing facility.