Leaders Reach Deal on Korea-US Free Trade Agreement

Act now to stop more-of-the-same trade agreements! Last Friday, US and Korean leaders negotiated some key points of conflict on the pending Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA). With negotiations settled, the leaders of both countries hope to have their Congress and National Assembly pass the agreement as soon as this Spring. It is absolutely vital that we act now to make our leaders understand that we are fed up with the failed free trade model. This Bush-created, and Obama-worsened trade agreement must be stopped!

The free trade agreement is highly controversial in both countries, although you wouldn’t know it from mainstream media coverage in the US. While the media is failing to discuss the substance of the agreement, a blind eye is being turned to a number of troublesome parts of the measure. The labor community has rejected the agreement due to its poor standards. Environmentalists are appalled at the US efforts to lower environmental and safety standards. Those concerned with sovereignty are irate over clauses allowing the World Bank and UN tribunals to allow South Korean companies to sue to the US government (or US companies to sue South Korea) for “lost profits,” should local regulations impede their financial gains. As Latin America solidarity activists, we fear that the passage of this FTA would pave the way for similar agreements with with Colombia and Panama despite Colombia’s appalling human rights record and Panama’s recent efforts to criminalize dissent and crush the labor movement.

Oddly, one of the only reasons many Democrats had hesitated to pass the agreement was due to “non-tariff barriers to trade.” In this case that actually meant that South Korea had too high of standards for car and food safety, as well as miles per gallon auto standards for the US to compete. Now that the Obama administration has negotiated for South Korea to lower its car safety and emissions standards for US automobiles, the administration appears ready to push the bill through. Clearly, this agreement is another example of a labor and environmental race to the bottom.

Now is the time to tell our Congressman that we will not stand for more of the same! The grassroots will not view this FTA as some political victory. This NAFTA-like bill must be stopped.

Please send the following letter (or your own variation) to your elected officials, or call them and let them know what you think. They may be our last hope for stopping this detrimental agreement! If your Representative will not be in the next Congress, get their pledge not to allow the trade agreement to be voted on during the lame duck session.


Dear Senator/Representative _____:

I am writing in regards to the pending Korea-US Free Trade agreement. I am very concerned with a number of aspects of this agreement, and urge you to declare publicly now that you will vote against it when it comes before Congress.

The KORUS FTA is detrimental to US and Korean workers. It forces South Korea to lower its environmental and safety standards, and exposes our tax-payers to possibly having to pay claims in United Nations or World Bank tribunals by Korean companies alleging “lost profits” based on our environmental or labor laws.

The Obama administration has failed to live up to its promises for true reform. Instead they have framed this detrimental agreement as a victory. The majority of people, however, do not see this agreement in such a light. We are tired of failed NAFTA-style trade agreements that have cost us so many jobs, and will continue to do so in these tough economic times.

I urge you to support a trade policy for people rather than corporations such as Sen. Sherrod Brown’s TRADE Act. Please announce now that you will vote against the KORUS FTA.


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