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March 01, 2011

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Peter Gemma

The Korea Free Trade Agreement is actually a heavily MANAGED trade deal―just like NAFTA―and weighs in at over a thousand pages of fine print. Multi-national corporate elites get favors, exceptions, and precedence, while hard-pressed middle-to-small sized U.S. Industries (such as manufacturers of cotton products and car parts) shoulder obligations and restrictions. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that KFTA would increase the U.S. trade deficit with Korea by $13.9 billion over the next seven years. Rising Korean imports would displace approximately 888,000 U.S. jobs over this time period, with the KFTA directly responsible for about 159,000 net job losses.
Our tax dollars will actually flow into North Korea via its Kaesong Industrial Complex, a “free trade zone” haven for sweatshops where South Korean firms employ some 44,000 North Koreans for wages in the range of 25-38 cents an hour (their autoworker counterparts in the South earned $23.30 an hour in 2007). North Korea-manufactured automobile parts would be built into South Korean cars sold in the U.S. The proposed trade deal allows up to 65% of the auto parts to be purchased from North Korea, then shipped here duty-free.
A hopeful sign: Korean opposition to the deal may help defeat this misnamed treaty: “We have been hit by the North with cannons and now we’re being hit by the US with the economy,” asserts Park Jie-Won, leader of the minority Democratic Party, calling the agreement a “humiliating and treacherous deal.” The Korea Confederation of Trade Unions says that KORUS FTA “is based on an economic model that has privileged investor rights over workers’ rights, public services, and the environment.”
The AFL-CIO, Donald Trump, Congressman Ron Paul, consumer advocate Ralph Nader and the Sierra Club oppose KFTA – time to explore, in depth, why.

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