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Statement by Ambassador Demetrios Marantis
Deputy United States Trade Representative
Before the House Ways and Means
Subcommittee on Trade
April 7, 2011
** As Prepared for Delivery **
“Good morning Chairman Brady, Ranking Member McDermott, and Members of the Committee. It’s an exciting time in international trade. It is an honor to testify today about the U.S.-Korea trade agreement.
“Congress has the singular opportunity to pass the most economically significant trade agreement in nearly two decades. The U.S.-Korea trade agreement will strengthen our trade and investment ties to Korea’s $1 trillion economy. It will bind a key ally closer to us, anchor our economy to the dynamic Asia-Pacific region, and help us keep our edge over international competition. Most importantly, this agreement will create substantial export opportunities, establish strong enforcement provisions, and support tens of thousands of new export-related jobs.
“The Korea agreement is just the first example of how this Administration has made our trade agreements work better. The President has underscored his intention to present pending trade agreements to Congress once we have adequately addressed key outstanding concerns. In December, we did so with Korea. This week, Panama has taken steps to complete work on outstanding labor and tax issues. And today, the President will announce an agreement with Colombia on an action plan to address outstanding labor issues. Congress must now work on passing a comprehensive trade policy – one that includes the pending trade agreements, Trade Adjustment Assistance, our preference programs, and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia.
“The U.S. – Korea trade agreement is ready to move today. The President and many of you had serious concerns about the deal signed in 2007. We heard you, and we took action. After extensive consultation with members of this Committee, and a wide range of stakeholders, the United States and Korea agreed, last December, to make Korea’s auto market more open, fair, and transparent.
“We leveled the playing field by addressing non-tariff barriers in Korea’s auto safety and environmental regulations. We encouraged green technologies by immediately cutting in half Korea’s tariffs on electric cars and eliminating these tariffs within five years. We negotiated a tariff structure that will give American auto companies and their workers a chance to build more business in Korea before U.S. tariffs come down. And we negotiated a new special motor vehicle safeguard.
“These commitments allow us to unlock the economic potential of the 2007 agreement. Immediately upon entry into force, this agreement eliminates tariffs on two-thirds of U.S. agricultural exports to Korea. Within five years of entry into force, it removes tariffs on over 95 percent of U.S. industrial and consumer goods exports. It also provides significant new access to Korea’s $580 billion services market.
“Underpinning these new export opportunities are the Korea agreement’s state of the art provisions to protect and enforce intellectual property rights, reduce red tape, and eliminate regulatory barriers to U.S. exports. This agreement contains the highest standards for protecting labor rights, promoting the environment, and ensuring that key domestic labor and environmental laws are enforced.
“Taken together, these additional export opportunities mean more jobs for Americans. The tariff reductions on goods exports alone will lead to significant increases in U.S. exports to Korea that will support over 70,000 American jobs. More services exports to Korea will support tens of thousands of additional jobs. And fewer non-tariff barriers and stronger rules will support even more.
“We remain committed to further opening beef markets across Asia, including Korea, consistent with international science. In the meantime, the U.S.-Korea agreement – when implemented – will progressively reduce Korea’s 40 percent beef tariff and enable America’s beef producers to build on the exponential growth of exports to Korea.
“Working with you, this Administration addressed outstanding concerns with this agreement. Working with you, we made significant improvements that will have real benefits to our auto industry, its workers, and our economy. And working with you, we can now move forward. Now is the time to act on this agreement so American families can realize the many benefits of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement. Working together, let’s move this agreement without further delay.”