With continually high unemployment and an uncertain economic future, it is unfathomable that the Democrat Majority in Congress has yet to move forward with a proven job creator and economic stimulus -- passing a free trade agreement (FTA). The United States currently has FTAs pending with three countries: Panama, Colombia, and Korea. All three of these agreements deserve to be considered and approved by Congress, but the Korea FTA especially has the potential to jump-start economic growth.
The Korea FTA is the largest of the three agreements and would have the greatest effect on the American economy. The agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors -- which all have a large presence in Texas -- stand to gain enormously from this agreement. Passing the Korea FTA would eliminate trade barriers and expand the market for exporters in the United States -- meaning more jobs for American workers.
Korea is already the United States' seventh largest trading partner and fifth largest market for US agriculture products. Once the agreement is implemented, tariffs on agricultural products made in Texas, like wheat, corn, and cotton, will be eliminated immediately. A large portion of chemical products and manufactured goods will also enter Korea duty free; the rest will be phased out over the next few years. The service sector would benefit from greater regulatory transparency and fair treatment of US companies. Overall, the US International Trade Commission estimates that the Korea FTA would increase the export of goods to Korea from the United States by $10 billion. Now more than ever, our country needs this kind of growth.
As the Democrat-controlled Congress stalls its discussion on trade, other countries and the European Union are moving forward on their own trade agreements with Korea. If the United States does not act quickly, we run the risk of being crowded out of the Korean market by other foreign companies. Swift passage of this agreement is vital to our recovery, and the Majority should bring it to the floor of the House of Representatives for an immediate vote.