Associated Industries of Massachusetts is urging the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to support free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama when they come up for votes as early as today on Capitol Hill.
AIM President Richard C. Lord told Massachusetts members of the U.S. House of Representatives that their support “for these job-creating, budget-neutral trade agreements is critical to Massachusetts employers and employees.” He noted that Bay State manufacturers exported nearly $900 million worth of products last year to Korea alone.
Both U.S. senators from Massachusetts, John Kerry and Scott Brown, support the free trade agreements.
“The pending agreements will create thousands of Massachusetts jobs and billions of dollars in new U.S. exports within a few years. The agreements will help Massachusetts companies save millions of dollars, because most tariffs will disappear immediately,” Lord said.
The House and Senate votes will cap nearly five years of negotiations on the deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. The agreements have been hung up over differences between the Bush and Obama Administrations and Congressional Democrats and Republicans over worker rights and safety in Colombia, and concerns over U.S. workers who might lose their jobs as a result of less-expensive goods from the trading nations.
The Obama Administration renegotiated portions of the Colombia deal and Congress has agreed to pass an aid program for displaced workers called Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) along with the trade agreements. The Senate has already passed TAA.
Lord told the House delegation that the agreement will benefit both manufacturing and service companies in Massachusetts, along with small businesses often shut out of foreign markets by high tariffs and other barriers.
“Fundamentally, these agreements are about making trade fair. The U.S. market is largely open to imports from around the world, but other countries continue to slap steep tariffs on our exports. These agreements will create a level playing field for American workers by eliminating the barriers U.S. exporters face in these three markets,” Lord wrote.
Some quick facts about the importance of Korea to the Massachusetts economy:
- Eighty percent of tariffs paid by Massachusetts companies will disappear immediately under the FTA; 95 percent of tariffs will be gone in five years.
- Massachusetts companies such as Acushnet, EMD and Millipore that do significant business in Korea will save millions of dollars.
- FTA contains strong protection for intellectual property and software.
- Korea and the US maintain balanced trade relationship, unlike the relationship between the US and China.