Korea FTA Outcomes on the Pact’s Second Anniversary

U.S. Exports to Korea Are Down, Imports from Korea Are Up, Auto and Meat Sectors Hit Particularly Hard

By Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Korea FTA Outcomes on the Pact’s Second Anniversary

In 2011 the Obama administration sold a “free trade” agreement (FTA) with Korea to a skeptical Congress with promises that it would mean “more exports, more jobs.” Two years after the pact went into effect, the actual outcomes are exactly the opposite of what was promised: U.S. monthly exports to Korea are down 11 percent, imports from Korea have increased and the U.S. monthly trade deficit with Korea has swelled 47 percent.

Since the 1993 battle over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), time and again the U.S. public and Congress have been promised that the latest trade deal will expand our exports – creating U.S. jobs and new profits for U.S. farmers and ranchers. For the Korea pact, the Obama administration promised that modifications had been made to ensure it would not repeat the job loss record of NAFTA. The pact was passed with strong GOP support, while two-thirds of House Democrats opposed it.

Now, once again, the administration is using the same export growth claims to sell the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive deal being negotiated with 11 other nations. The administration used the Korea FTA text as an opening U.S. offer for many TPP chapters.

But time and again, the reality has proven to be the opposite of what was promised. As the Korea FTA’s initial results have come in, the wide gulf between the administration’s promises for the pact and its disappointing realities has fueled congressional skepticism toward similar export growth promises now being used to push for Fast Track authority for the TPP. By the end of 2013, 19 of the 50 House Democrats still in office who had supported the Korea FTA had signed a letter in opposition to Fast Track. In 2014, more Korea FTA-supporting House Democrats have come out in opposition to legislation introduced to reinstate Fast Track for the TPP.