WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement upon news that the U.S. will renew free-trade talks with South Korea:
"We need a change in trade policy, not more of the same. Right now, the proposed South Korea Free Trade Agreement looks similar to other trade deals that have undermined Ohio workers and manufacturers. Until we vigorously enforce trade laws, including the use of remedies to crack down on currency manipulation, it makes little sense to take up this agreement.
"Asking Congress and the American people to support this agreement while Ohioans are still finding their footing in this harsh economy is no small request. More than ten years of NAFTA and alleged free trade with China has brought a $2 billion per day trade deficit and the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs - jobs that should go to Ohio's skilled workers.
"I am concerned about the rules of this proposed trade agreement, especially as it relates to the new rights and privileges corporations would be entitled to under the investor-state chapter. I am also concerned that some sectors like autos and auto parts are facing barriers to the Korean market that this agreement will not dismantle. I have introduced the Reciprocal Market Access Act to address this concern.
"With Ohio families suffering the double blow from the economic recession and unfair trade around the globe, we need the Administration to focus on trade enforcement - including the use of trade remedy laws against currency manipulation - and to support small business exports."
Brown is considered one of Congress' leading voices on trade issues. He is the author of the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment (TRADE) Act, legislation which would require a review of existing trade agreements, provide an opportunity to renegotiate existing trade agreements, and outline principles of what should be included in future trade agreements. The legislation also calls for the role of Congress in trade policymaking to be strengthened. He also introduced the Trade Enforcement Priorities Act, legislation that would give the federal government more authority to address trade barriers that undermine American workers and domestic manufacturing. This includes the reinstatement of "Super 301" authority, which allows the U.S. Trade Representative to enforce trade laws that promote domestic manufacturing and job creation.