WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement upon news that the U.S. and South Korea have not reached an agreement on a bilateral free trade:
“It’s encouraging that the Obama Administration is working to ensure that this trade agreement is a two-way street for American goods. I applaud U.S. automakers, auto workers, and auto part suppliers for standing firm and insisting that that U.S. negotiators deliver for American manufacturers.
“As it stands, the proposed Korea agreement – as negotiated by the Bush administration – would leave the door open for China and other countries to get tariff-free access to U.S. customers, without giving U.S. auto companies and workers greater access to the Korean market. We must ensure that American producers can actually sell their products in the countries that are supposed to be our trading partners – before pursuing more-of-the-same trade agreements. Without a meaningful safeguard against a surge of imports, this agreement would be a giant step backwards for Ohio auto workers at a time the industry is regaining its footing.
“We need a change in trade policy, not more of the same NAFTA-style agreements that have undermined American manufacturing and economic development. More than ten years of NAFTA and 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. With Ohio families suffering the double blow from the economic recession and unfair trade around the globe, we need the Administration to continue to focus on trade enforcement – including the use of trade remedy laws against currency manipulation – and to support small business exports by ensuring reciprocal market access.”
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.