All eyes will be on Detroit tomorrow as South Korean president Lee Myung-bak and President Barack Obama convene at the General Motors plant in Lake Orion, Mich. to promote a trade deal between the United States and South Korea. In the first trade agreements to pass Congress since 2007, the U.S. House and Senate passed three free trade agreements yesterday, which will ultimately increase international trade and promote commerce for American industries through overseas markets.
In addition to negotiating this trade agreement with South Korea, the U.S. will secure trading partnerships with Colombia and Panama to further improve international commerce. Passing the trade agreements with these three countries could potentially boost U.S. exports by $13 billion through agriculture, machinery and other goods and services. The most substantive of the pacts, however, would be with South Korea.
South Korean markets will provide nearly $11 billion in additional potential revenue. Though trade agreements were almost reached four years ago between the U.S. and South Korea, long disputes concerning South Korean barriers to U.S. automotive imports prevented their passage. Now, both nations are pushing to quickly ratify the agreement, which would allow each U.S. automaker to import 25,000 cars into South Korea every year.
In the agreement, South Korea would change its automotive safety standards for imported vehicles to those required for American vehicles. Additionally, South Korea plans to cut the current tariffs on U.S. products in half and eliminate them by the fifth year of the agreement. While many South Koreans have expressed a preference for domestic vehicles because of safety concerns, they should be assured that the U.S. safety standards are among the highest in the world.
Capitalizing on this opportunity to engage in increased international trade could prove invaluable to the U.S. economy. Once enacted, the trade agreements will create tens of thousands of jobs for the country and small U.S. enterprises will directly benefit from a larger labor force. Economic growth will be boosted by the increase in employment and the creation of new markets in which the U.S. can export goods and services. The Motor City will also reap the benefits associated with this proposed surge in commerce thanks to the auto industry’s presence in Michigan.
The expansion of U.S. exports to South Korea, Panama and Colombia coupled with reduced tariff barriers on U.S. products will further stimulate the struggling economy. Since products exported from the U.S. to South Korea currently face higher tariffs than U.S. imports from South Korea, the trade deal will level the playing field between the two countries.
With lowered tariffs on U.S. exports to international markets, the U.S. economy has the potential to gain revenue. And with a lower trade deficit, government spending will not be sacrificed or affected by these trade deals.
Congress made positive progress for Michigan-based automakers in approving the agreements. This is an important business opportunity for the companies involved and has the potential to aid in the rebuilding of Michigan’s economy.