Sens. Brown, Stabenow to Pres. Obama: Proposed U.S.- Korea Free Trade Agreement Could Undermine Workers, National Export Initiative

As Members of President’s Export Council, Brown and Stabenow Raise Concerns Over Effects of Proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement on American Workers, Business; Stress Trade Enforcement

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today sent a letter to President Obama expressing concern over the Administration's proposed U.S.-Korea free trade agreement. The senators, Congressionally-appointed members of the President's Export Council, urged the President to "drive a hard bargain with Korea" in any U.S.-Korea free trade agreement in order to combat unfair trade practices and protect American jobs and innovation.

"A vital component of an export and jobs creation strategy is a trade agenda that does not repeat the mistakes of the previous administration. We need trade agreements that increase market access to U.S. goods so that we are exporting products, not jobs. At the same time, we must initiate more enforcement cases that target the most pressing barriers facing American workers and businesses," the senators wrote. 

"As it stands, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement falls short of the new course that the Administration has advocated-a path that would ensure strong labor, safety, and environmental standards; open up Korea's markets to support good American jobs, including in auto manufacturing; ensure a fair investment environment while not exposing taxpayers from liabilities due to investor-state provisions; and contain robust mechanisms for enforcement," the senators continued. "We respectfully request that your Administration work closely with Congress to address concerns about the contents of this agreement, as well as concerns about the broader trade policy framework."

Brown and Stabenow introduced S.1982, The Trade Enforcement Priorities Act-legislation that would give the federal government more authority to address trade barriers that undermine American workers and manufacturing. This includes the reinstatement of Super 301 authority, which provides support to the U.S. Trade Representative to combat export barriers.

Brown and Stabenow's full letter to the President is below.

July 19, 2010

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama:

As members of the President’s Export Council, we write today to express our support of your goal to double U.S. exports in the next five years, and we look forward to working with you to carry out the National Export Initiative in the coming months.

A vital component of an export and jobs creation strategy is a trade agenda that does not repeat the mistakes of the previous administration. We need trade agreements that increase market access to U.S. goods so that we are exporting products, not jobs. At the same time, we must initiate more enforcement cases that target the most pressing barriers facing American workers and businesses. Without a demonstrated change in strategy, we are concerned about your promotion of the proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. 

As it stands, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement falls short of the new course that the Administration has advocated—a path that would ensure strong labor, safety, and environmental standards; open up Korea’s markets to support good American jobs, including in auto manufacturing; ensure a fair investment environment while not exposing taxpayers from liabilities due to investor-state provisions; and contain robust mechanisms for enforcement.  We respectfully request that your Administration work closely with Congress to address concerns about the contents of this agreement, as well as concerns about the broader trade policy framework.

The challenge before your Administration and Congress is how to promote trade and exports, along with better working conditions, the protection of American innovation, and the rule of law.  We believe the Administration must focus on driving a hard bargain with Korea– one that shows success in gaining market access while combating unfair trade practices, and provide a new framework that gives confidence to American producers and manufacturers that global trade deals produce jobs and better living conditions at home and abroad.

We are eager to work with you to address these issues and to move forward with trade policies that reflect the changing needs of American communities and the new realities of the global economy. We are confident we can and will accomplish this.

Sincerely,

Sherrod Brown
United States Senator

Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator

     
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