[Letters] An FTA will help both the U.S. and HawaiiMaintaining the United States’ strategic position in Northeast Asia depends on strengthening and expanding the U.S. relationship with Korea.
Besides enhancing regional stability and securing peace, a free trade agreement with Korea offers the U.S. wider access to the world’s 15th largest economy.
Korean investors will be able to more easily invest in the U.S. and create jobs.
Trade between both countries will be enhanced by a 95 percent reduction in tariffs. And a Korea-U.S. FTA will help Hawaii combat its current economic problems.
Korea is an export driven economy. As its exports move up the value added chain, it needs unfettered access to more and more markets to ensure economic growth.
President Lee Myung-bak has tirelessly lobbied in both Korea and the U.S. for the passage of the Korea-U.S. FTA.
The hallmark of the Obama administration’s foreign policy has been the enhancement of the United States’ relations with the Asia-Pacific region.
In his 2011 State of the Union speech, the president advocated for the enactment of the Korea-U.S. FTA.
U.S. opposition to a Korea-U.S. FTA has been due to slow U.S. economic growth, fears that an FTA would send jobs to Korea, block U.S. beef exports and automobile industry fears an FTA will add to the imbalance in automobile trade.
In his State of the Union speech, the President pointed out that a Korea-U.S. FTA would add 70,000 American jobs.
The Southwest Farm Press reports the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and 60 other food and agricultural concerns representing nearly all sectors of the agricultural economy now support the FTA passage.
And the United Auto Workers and the Ford Motor Company now support passage.
The U.S. already has 17 FTAs in force. The Korea-U.S. FTA was signed in June 2007 but not ratified by the U.S. Congress. In the interim, the European Union and Korea have signed an FTA.
Korea already has FTAs with Chile, ASEAN and Singapore. Canada and Korea are also in the midst of negotiating an FTA.
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama also advocated for passage of FTAs with Colombia and Panama in addition to Korea.
According to the U.S.-Korea Business Council, not passing the FTA would result in a loss of $20.3 billion in U.S. exports to Korea, a loss of $40.4 billion in the U.S. GDP and a loss of 345,017 jobs.
The average salary of jobs in America created though Korean investment is $64,300.
Specific losses to Hawaii would include a $18 million loss in lodging and food service, a $11 million loss in retail, a $7 million loss in construction, a $8 million loss in technical services and a $7 million loss in finance.
Every day the Hawaii Legislature grapples with ways to balance the state budget by discussing budget cuts and looking for new streams of income.
Clearly a Korea-U.S. FTA will help solve the legislature’s problem and offer great opportunity to all in the Aloha State.
A Korea-U.S. FTA will yield benefits to both the U.S. and Hawaii.
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Bill Sharp, faculty at Hawaii Pacific University and host of Asia in Review