New Dems Lead Bipartisan Letter Urging President to Honor Korea-U.S. Trade Agreement
New Dem Chair Emeritus Kind, New Dem Trade Task Force Co-Chairs Larsen & Meeks, and other New Democrat Coalition Members led an influential bipartisan coalition in calling on President Trump to continue honoring the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). In recent weeks it has been reported that the Trump Administration is considering withdrawing from the agreement. A withdrawal from the agreement would cause American businesses, farmers and workers to face high barriers to selling their products while benefiting competitors in Asia and Europe.
“The U.S. relationship with Korea could not be more important than it is today. Growing and maintaining robust trading relationships in East Asia is our best tool to ensure peace and prosperity not only on the Korean peninsula but here at home as well. It would be a grave error to withdraw from the agreement,” said Reps. Kind, Reichert, Dent, and Larsen.
The following New Democrat Coalition Members signed on to the letter (8 out of the 9 Dems on the letter):
- Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)
- Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT)
- Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA)
- Rep. Greg Meeks (D-NY)
- Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
- Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL)
- Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA)
- Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
A copy of the letter can be found here and below:
September 21, 2017
Dear Mr. President,
We write today in strong support of the U.S. ? Republic of Korea relationship and encourage you to continue strengthening the economic bonds between our two countries by remaining in the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).
We are concerned that America’s reputation would be greatly diminished if we withdraw from this agreement. Our relationship with Korea could not be more important than it is today. Good markets make good allies, and we can think of no worse time to fray relationships with allies in East Asia such as Korea. Growing and maintaining robust trading relationships in East Asia is our best tool to ensure peace and prosperity not only on the Korean peninsula but here at home as well.
While the bonds between our two nations are longstanding, KORUS is barely five years old. The agreement has not yet been fully implemented and provides significant potential for U.S. market access to grow. The agreement so far has been positive – total exports of goods and services from the United States to Korea have increased by $2.1 billion, over 3 percent, since 2011. The annual merchandise trade deficit with Korea declined in 2016, and this trend is continuing so far this year.
U.S. agriculture makes up a significant portion of those U.S. exports. Korea represents an enormous opportunity for many American agricultural exports. Korea is our second largest market for U.S cheese in the world. Without KORUS, the United States would be the only major dairy supplier in the world that does not have preferred access to the Korean market through a trade agreement, ceding to our competitors a market worth $232 million in dairy exports last year. They are a large market for our potatoes and cherries. Cherry exports to Korea have increased from over 242,000 boxes in 2010 to over 1 million boxes in 2016. Pork exports to Korea have already gone from $190 million in 2010 to over $360 million in 2016, and should the United States pull out of the agreement our pork producers would surrender their access to the EU, Chile, and others who enjoy preferential access. Even the U.S. confectionary industry benefits from trade with Korea, with 21% of Korean chocolate coming from U.S. producers.
No relationship is perfect, and we should commit to growing and improving our trade relationship with Korea just like any other. We stand ready to work with you to ensure that Korea address its many failures in implementing the agreement. However, it would be a grave error to withdraw from the agreement. If we were to do so, our exporters would experience devastatingly high barriers hurting American businesses, farmers and workers and benefitting their competitors in Asia and Europe.
KORUS passed with strong bipartisan support, and Congress should be informed and consulted with concerning the future of this agreement and any potential changes, as required by U.S. law. We thank you for your consideration and look forward to further communication from your Administration regarding your plans for the U.S.-Korea relationship.
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