February 21,2012

Press Contact:

Julia Lawless, Antonia Ferrier, 202.224.4515

Hatch Statement on U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement Entry into Force

SALT LAKE CITY – U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, called today’s announcement by United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk that the United States-South Korea trade agreement will enter into force on March 15th welcome news to American exporters, but said he would carefully scrutinize its implementation to ensure that Korea upholds its end of the agreement.  Hatch also again called on President Obama to renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).  

“Today’s announcement means our farmers, ranchers, workers, and job creators are a step closer to having increased access to Korea’s thriving market to sell American goods and services.  This trade agreement alone will increase American exports by $10 billion and support tens of thousands of American jobs,” said Hatch.  “Opening Korea’s growing economy to our products, goods and services is a common-sense means of spurring economic growth and job creation in the United States without adding to our debt.”

With today’s announcement, the Obama Administration has determined that Korea has taken appropriate measures and procedures to comply with the terms of the free trade agreement, establishing an entry into force date of March 15, 2012. Hatch said he would ensure that South Korea fully implements its commitments.

“Given the speed with which this process was concluded, it’s important that we ensure that Korea has worked to uphold its end of the agreement,” said Hatch. “Moreover, the Administration must demonstrate the same commitment to expediting the implementation of the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements as it has with Korea.  There should not be a double standard, and the Obama Administration should not delay the implementation of the Panama or Colombia trade pacts, because of issues that have nothing to do with the agreements themselves.”

TPA, which allows the Executive Branch to negotiate and move trade agreements through Congress in an expedited fashion, was last renewed in 2002 under President George W. Bush, and has been expired since 2007.  The three trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama were all negotiated under the Bush-enacted TPA.  To date, the Obama Administration has not requested a renewal of this authority that would be needed to negotiate additional trade agreements.

“Passage of these three agreements demonstrates that there is bipartisan support for opening overseas markets to American products, but we can only accomplish that goal if the President pushes to renew Trade Promotion Authority he needs to negotiate new agreements,” said Hatch.  “I hope the President acts soon to request this authority from Congress so we can build on our success, help our job creators and workers, and get America back to work.”