On December 3, 2010, President Obama backtracked on his campaign commitments to create a new American trade policy that stopped the job offshoring crisis by announcing he would bring the NAFTA-style Korea FTA negotiated by President Bush to Congress for a vote. Members of Congress from Democratic leaders to Libertarian Ron Paul announced their opposition as did unions, environmental and other organizations.
Now it is up to us to make sure that the 112th Congress makes the right decision and rejects this deeply flawed, job-killing, NAFTA-style deal. The agreement could come to a vote as soon as mid-February. The Korea agreement literally replicates large swaths of NAFTA and CAFTA. The U.S. International Trade Commission, the independent government agency that reviews trade agreements, says it will increase our trade deficit. The Economic Policy Institute says it will cost 159,000 more U.S. jobs.
The Korea FTA would promote further financial deregulation - even after the hard lessons learned through the economic crisis. And it includes the outrageous NAFTA -style extraordinary rights for foreign investors that allow them to directly sue the U.S. government in World Bank and UN tribunals to demand compensation in our taxpayer funds for the loss of ‘expected future profits’ caused by having to meet U.S. environmental, financial, health and other laws our own firms must meet. This investor-state system has led to many corporate demands for taxpayer cash in challenges of NAFTA countries public interest regulations with millions paid out so far. There are over a two hundred corporate affiliates of Korean firms in the U.S. that would obtain these new rights under the FTA to challenge local, state and national laws.
Background: This agreement is one in a series of NAFTA expansion that the Bush administration negotiated. It was signed by Bush in 2007. As a Senator and then as a presidential candidate, President Obama opposed the deal. He pledged to replace the damaging NAFTA model. In June 2010, President Obama said he would start renegotiating parts of the agreement in preparation for sending it to Congress. But he only focused on some modest changes to automobile trade issues. This came after over 100 members of Congress and over 500 unions, environmental, faith and other organizations called on him to meet his commitments and really fix Bush’s old text. The deals Obama is now pushing directly conflict with his campaign commitments.