US News & World Report | 13 Feb 2007
Manufacturers Leery of U.S.-Korea Trade Deal
By Paul Bedard
The push for a U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, already under fire in South Korea, is being viewed skeptically by U.S. manufacturers, especially carmakers, according to industry and congressional officials.
"We already can’t sell a car there and the agreement will do very little to change that," said one industry official. Korean and American labor groups are speaking out against the deal, concerned that it will undermine worker rights. The deal has been in negotiations for months with both governments hoping for a final deal.
In Korea, it has been the source of protests over concerns about the safety of increased beef exports from American cattle farms to Korean markets. In the United States, manufacturers are starting to question whether it will be of much value. An industry official with close ties to Capitol Hill and the White House said that the proposed tariff reductions won’t do much to boost exports into South Korea.
In the case of carmakers, Detroit is frustrated that very few American cars are allowed into South Korea, and the manufacturers don’t expect the deal to boost sales much there.
"Look, in Korea, imports account for about 2.7 percent of their market and here it’s 40 percent. It will take years for us to get a toehold in there, and this deal won’t do much to make it any easier," said the source.