The United States is poles apart on the assessment of the South Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) depending on the industry.
As the U.S. government claims the KORUS FTA only benefits South Korea and the South Korean government argues it benefits both sides, the U.S. interest groups are also voicing different opinions. Accordingly, it will make a considerable impact on the two countries’ strategies for revision negotiations in the future.
According to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) Washington Center LLC on July 18, the steel and manufacturing businesses insisted that the KORUS FTA should be reconsidered at the NAFTA consultation hearings held on June 27 to 29 by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) as the U.S government does.
However, the intellectual property rights and service businesses said the KORUS FTA is a well-made free trade agreement.
It was the NAFTA hearings but participating businesses compared the KORUS FTA and the NAFTA and analyzed their pros and cons.
On May 18, the USTR gave official 90-day notice to Congress of the Trump administration's intent to renegotiate NAFTA and held public hearings last month with 137 companies in attendance.
According to the KITA Washington Center, the American Film Institute (AFI) highly rated the protection of intellectual property rights at the KORUS at the hearings and suggested to apply the same clause to the NAFTA.
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) said, “The KORUS FTA eradicated opacity of interpretation by stating specific exceptional clauses in intellectual property rights protection. The agreement will be a good role model of how to modernize the NAFTA in the future.
The agricultural and dairy industries also positively assessed the KORUS FTA.
The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) said, “Based on positive effects of the KORUS FTA, we should develop a negotiation agenda for the NAFTA.”
Previously, Chip Councell, chairman of the USGC, had an interview with the agricultural media and said, “South Korea is a big customer and loyal partner of the U.S. agricultural industry. U.S. farmers and farming companies have considered the KORUS FTA mutually beneficial since the KORUS took effect.” He thought highly of the favorable function of the KORUS FTA.
By contrast, metal, steel and manufacturing businesses pointed out negative effects of the KORUS FTA at the hearings
The U.S. Manufacturers Association said, “We should minimize preferential treatments of other countries by strengthening the rules of origins for the NAFTA agreement. We should also reconsider the economic effects from the KORUS FTA.”
A titanium metal company also said, “After the KORUS FTA took effect, the U.S. titanium industry has been seriously damaged by cases benefiting from a loophole in the rules of origins.
The U.S. Western Sheet Metal Workers Association said, “The Obama administration said the KORUS FTA would create 70,000 more jobs in the U.S. but it actually destroyed about 100,000 jobs for four years after the agreement took effect. Moreover, trade deficits have more than doubled.”
The Washington Center said, “There are different opinions in the U.S. industries depending on interests. The trade policy of the Trump administration aims to win political favorable public opinion by putting the protectionism first but it has no clear target and guideline.”