Wednesday, June 4, 2014

S. Korea trade deal continues to hurt U.S. workers

The U.S. trade deal with South Korea is still doing what we warned it would do ever since it took effect in March 2012: Destroying U.S. jobs, increasing imports from South Korea and widening the trade gap.

On the two-year anniversary of the deal, the Teamsters' friends at Public Citizen explained how it resulted in

  • U.S. exports fell 11 percent;
  • Imports from South Korea rose;
  • Trade deficit with South Korea ballooned 47 percent. 
And this:
... the estimated drop in net U.S. exports to Korea in the FTA’s first two years represents the loss of more than 46,600 U.S. jobs.
Among those being hurt: U.S. steelworkers. The International Business Times explains:
Ahead of a July 10 decision by the Department of Commerce, the United Steelworkers union and the Alliance for American Manufacturing are pushing the federal government to impose punitive tariffs on nine countries that produce oil country tubular goods, or OCTG, a particularly sturdy type of pipe made to withstand high pressures and corrosive chemicals. 
The U.S. producers have accused these exporting countries, led by South Korean manufacturers, of exporting the tubes at prices below fair value. Domestic demand for the tubes has increased because they’re used in hydraulic fracturing, which extracts natural gas by injecting a high-pressure water-mixture with explosive force into shale rock layers to release the fuel. 
“There’s not a problem in this country where we can’t produce enough,” said Dan Voorhees, president of USW Local 1104, at a rally at a steel plant in Lorain, Ohio. Workers at the Monday rally called for measures to prevent what they call a shift from dependence on foreign oil to dependence on foreign-made steel tubing for drilling.
Since March, the South Korea trade deal is continuing to hurt U.S. workers. According to Public Citizen, April marked the highest monthly level of U.S. goods imports from Korea ever on record.  
And according to Reuters, the deal isn't helping South Korea either:
...a fall in imports in the latest month reinforces a worrying erosion of domestic consumption...The sluggish imports underscored depressed domestic consumption and investment, and continued weakness in global prices of energy and raw materials.
The same arguments used to push the South Korea trade deal -- it would create jobs -- are being used to promote TAFTA and the TPP.

We weren't fooled then, and we're not fooled now.