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KORUS of Boos: US-Korea Trade Disaster Is Bellwether for Fast-Tracked TPP


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Last weekend marked the second anniversary of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), but there is less cause to celebrate the time that has passed than there is to regret the engagement altogether. It is quite clear that the deal failed to produce the positive impact promised by our trade-loving President.  

While the administration touts the potential benefits of the seemingly unstoppable Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the public now has the results of KORUS to alert them to the dangers of global trade deals.  Obama claimed KORUS would increase U.S. goods exports by $10 to $11 billion and support 70,000 American jobs, yet analysis shows that exports decreased and jobs were lost:

In first two years after KORUS took effect, U.S. domestic exports to Korea fell (decreased) by $3.1 billion, a decline of 7.5%, as shown in the figure below. Imports from Korea increased $5.6 billion, an increase of 9.8%. Although rising exports could, in theory, support more U.S. jobs, the decline in US exports to Korea has actually cost American jobs in the past two years. Worse yet, the rapid growth of Korean imports has eliminated even more U.S. jobs. Overall, the U.S. trade deficit with Korea has increased $8.7 billion, or 59.6%, costing nearly 60,000 U.S. jobs. Most of the nearly 60,000 jobs lost were in manufacturing.

KORUS is a kind of mini-TPP, so one can only imagine the irreparable damage the actual TPP could do.  With eleven nations set to enter the agreement (and China and South Korea on the periphery), the endgame would not only feature grave job losses but a loss of national sovereignty and the creation of corporate super humanism. As the Economic Policy Institute‘s Robert E. Scott suggests, many of the eleven TPP members-to-be have a history of currency manipulation.  Entering the TPP would curtail our nation’s ability to combat these practices.  

The Obama administration wants the TPP fast-tracked, meaning the details of the economy-altering deal would be kept secret and Congress would be unable to strike or even question harmful aspects of it.  

The results of KORUS and NAFTA reveal why the general public and politicians should oppose the TPP. As Scott concludes, there is little reason to believe things will be different this time around:

If completed and approved by Congress, these deals will only result in a more outsourcing by US and foreign MNCs, rising trade deficits and even more trade-related job losses. Proposed trade and investment deals are a direct threat to the heart of U.S. manufacturing employment and domestic production. The United States should stop negotiating new trade deals and fix the ones we have.


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