Korea-US Free Trade Agreement

By: John Ampiah-Addison
November 1, 2011

John Ampiah-Addison

Early this month, the White House formally introduced the Korea-US free trade agreement (FTA) under “Fast Track procedures” – meaning once President Obama formally submits the pact to Congress, it must receive an up-or down vote, without amendment, within 90 days. The Columbans are against this agreement because they believe it will affect the lives of many. Statistics supporting this argument have shown that if this pact is passed, 130,000 farmers in Korea will lose their only livelihood and the United States will lose 159,000 jobs. However, according to the US International Trade Commission this pact will help reduce tariffs on goods and “add $ 10 billion to $ 12 billion to annual US Gross Domestic Product and around $ 10 billion to annual merchandise exports to Korea.”

Considering the timing of this agreement, we can boldly say that now is not the time — especially given the current economic uncertainty any loss of jobs to the US cannot be accommodated. Giving the stakes involved, I think it might be better for the White House to carefully analyze the negative implications of this agreement. I know every deal comes with a downside, but I believe a net loss of 159,000 jobs is not what the US wants now. Moreover, it’s completely unfair that South Korean farmers will have to lose their only form of livelihood due to competition from US markets.

There’s potential for flooding of the Korean market, which means cheaper goods for Koreans and limited opportunities for Koreans to enter the market. It will be very interesting to see how everything unfolds, but honestly, I believe the turn of events will solely depend on how the Korean Government responds.