Remarks by the United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk
at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
March 15, 2012
* As Prepared for Delivery *
“Thank you. Good morning. Let me first take this opportunity to warmly welcome Korean Ambassador Choi. The United States and Korea are strong allies, close friends, and economic partners. I look forward to working with you as we begin a new chapter in our deep and dynamic trade relationship.
“Today, we hail the entry into force of this landmark trade agreement that will bring significant benefits to both of our countries.
“This is good news for American entrepreneurs, workers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers who are ready to export more U.S. goods and services to Korea’s $1 trillion market.
“Similarly, it’s good news for Korea, which stands to gain in terms of economic growth, jobs, and preferential access to the world’s largest market here in the United States.
“Now that the agreement has entered into force, we can reflect on what an amazing journey this has been. Frankly, there were a few moments when some doubted whether we would ever be able to achieve this remarkable success.
“But thanks to the vision and leadership of our two great leaders, President Obama and President Lee, we stand together today ready to seize the mutual benefits of this true win-win trade pact.
“Make no mistake – President Obama and President Lee were unwavering in their shared commitment to secure a landmark trade agreement that boosts trade and jobs in both our countries.
“Here in the United States, President Obama insisted that we find a path forward for the U.S.-Korea trade agreement – not just for any deal but one that worked for American workers. We reached out to labor as well as business leaders, building support with stakeholders from every sector: including the United Auto Workers (UAW) and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), in addition to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Business Roundtable, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), Coalition of Services Industries (CSI), Ford, GM, and Chrysler, just to name a few.
“We were also in constant contact with Chairman Baucus, Senator Hatch, Chairman Camp, Congressman Levin, and many other senators and congressmen on both sides of the aisle.
“In the end, we secured overwhelming passage of the agreement with large majorities in both chambers of the U.S. Congress.
“These shared efforts have built a new bipartisan template for trade policy that opens markets and levels the playing field for American businesses, workers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers.
“Of course, the Obama Administration’s hard work was matched by our Korean colleagues’ determination to secure a balanced agreement.
“My counterpart for most of this journey, former Minister for Trade Jay Kim, was a tough negotiator and staunch advocate for his country who helped us arrive at a mutually-agreeable solution. And my new counterpart, Trade Minister Bark, helped to bring the implementation process across the finish line.
“In addition, we all know how hard former Korean Ambassador to the United States Han Duk-soo worked to promote this historic agreement. I look forward to working with him in his new capacity as Chairman of KITA and with Ambassador Choi to ensure the agreement delivers the anticipated benefits for both countries.
“In that respect, I’d like to ask all of the private sector representatives here today to keep in touch with both the U.S. and Korean governments over the next few weeks and months. Let us know not only about the trade challenges you face, but also the successes you are achieving as a result of this new agreement.
“The more we share positive stories about this agreement and trade in general, the more we can bring you additional market-opening measures to unleash the full potential of your businesses.
“Finally, I cannot forget my own staff – the tireless Wendy Cutler, Ambassador Demetrios Marantis, and our entire team at USTR.
“In conclusion, let me simply say that this agreement represents trade policy at its best: American businesses and workers win when we come together and focus on the job-building benefits of trade.
“And the unbreakable bond between the United States and our dear friend and ally Korea will continue to grow stronger with every day of increased trade enabled by this landmark agreement.