Guest blog post from Congressman Jim McDermott, who is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Trade, and represents the city of Seattle, WA in the U.S. House of Representatives. He wrote this post while on the CODEL trip to Korea with Secretary Locke.
The U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement is something that is good for both countries. For South Korea, this is an opportunity to solidify their position as a world economic power by establishing a relationship with the United States. They are in a situation where they are surrounded by China, North Korea and Japan. They are a group of 50 million people who since the Korean War have gone from absolute devastation to a solid economic performer – a country that can deal with the United States on an equal basis.
When we began trading with an impoverished South Korea, we opened our doors and lowered our tariffs to the point where they paid almost nothing to export to the United States. Simultaneously, we paid enormous tariffs when we exported to South Korea – tariffs that are still in effect.
I’ll give you an example: a bottle of wine that would cost $13 in Seattle would cost $68 here in Seoul because of the tariffs. With the new trade agreement, those tariffs will come down and we will have Washington State wine sold here in Korea. Instead of drinking French, Italian, Spanish and Argentinean wines, they will be drinking Washington wine. That’s just one example of how we stand to benefit from an economic standpoint.