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Teamsters Urge Congress to Reject South Korea Trade Deal

Teamsters (select to view enlarged photo)

Hoffa Issues First Public Statement on the Issue

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2011--Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa today said he opposes the current version of the trade deal with South Korea and will urge Congress to reject it.

The bill is expected to be submitted to Congress soon.  

"We appreciate President Obama's efforts to renegotiate the deal," Hoffa said. "Though the revised agreement is much improved, it still falls short. After careful review and discussion, we have concluded we cannot support this trade agreement."

"The United States has lost 5 million jobs since NAFTA, and the last thing America's middle class needs right now is 'Son of NAFTA,'" Hoffa continued.  "We desperately need to reverse direction and protect our economy instead of giving it away to our diplomatic partners. One of the real dangers of this deal is that it gives South Korean multinationals new rights to challenge U.S. laws. Why should a foreign company or investor have more power in this country than our own small businesses?"

The South Korea trade agreement is the largest since NAFTA. South Korea is the 12th largest economy in the world. Hoffa noted that the U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the trade deal would increase the U.S. trade deficit.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the proposed trade deal with South Korea would cost 159,000 U.S. jobs over seven years. It would hurt some of the highest paying industries in the U.S., including motor vehicles and parts, electronics equipment and metal products.

"This deal would allow so-called 'Korean' cars sold in the United States to be made mostly in other countries because of the ridiculously low rule-of-origin requirement," Hoffa said. "I also have serious security concerns because the deal would cover products assembled in South Korea made with parts from North Korea."

Hoffa said other reasons to oppose the deal include:

  • It contains language explicitly forbidding International labor Organization (ILO) conventions.
  • It encourages financial deregulation.
  • It will harm U.S. exporters of wheat, oilseed, hay and nursery products.
  • It doesn't safeguard against currency manipulation.

Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.4 million members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico