Rep. David Camp (R-Mich.), the new chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, says he wants to work with President Barack Obama to pass long-delayed free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. The bilateral pact with South Korea, in particular, presents an early opportunity for Republicans to work with the President, who has said the deal will contribute significantly to achieving his goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years.
In early December, the White House and the South Korean government announced that they had resolved outstanding issues related to the auto industry that had blocked approval of the U.S.-South Korea free-trade agreement since it was signed in June 2007 by former president George W. Bush. U.S.-based automakers had opposed the original agreement, saying it did not give them enough access to the Korean market.
“This is a big win for American employers and workers,” Camp said in a statement. “Not only will this agreement ensure that job-creating U.S. exports are competitive in this vital market, it will—along with other ongoing trade talks in the region—provide us with a critical counterbalance to China’s growing influence.”
Dow Chemical, the largest U.S. chemical maker by revenue, says the agreement will provide more than $1 million in tariff reductions for the company’s U.S.-manufactured exports to South Korea.
U.S. chemical exports to South Korea were slowed by the recession in 2009, dropping from nearly $5 billion the previous year to $4.4 billion. South Korea was the 12th-largest market for U.S. chemical exports in 2009.
The agreement, if approved by both countries’ legislatures, would be the largest trade accord in terms of commercial value for the U.S. since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1994 with Canada and Mexico. South Korea is America’s seventh-largest trading partner.