Detroit, Michigan – On Saturday, April 21st, 2007, Senator John Edwards will deliver the keynote address at the Michigan Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner and will announce his opposition to the South Korea trade deal. The Bush administration is finalizing details of the agreement and is expected to submit it to Congress for approval later this spring. This afternoon, Edwards released the following statement:
"I believe in trade deals that make sense for American workers. But that does not include a trade deal with a country that refuses to open its market to American cars. We buy 100 times more cars from South Korea than they buy from us.
"A trade agreement with South Korea needs to start with their willingness to open their market to American automobiles and other U.S. products and agree to trade fairly. It must also include strong labor and environmental standards and lift up workers in both countries.
"Instead of stubbornly pursuing policies that put Americans out of work, the Administration should focus on making sure new agreements include real labor and environmental protections and should enforce our rights under existing trade agreements. And the Congress should make it clear to the President that it will override any agreement that does not protect American jobs and American interests."
Some of Edwards' specific objections to the proposed trade agreement are:
- While the agreement would immediately eliminate U.S. tariffs on Korean vehicles, it leaves in place a discriminatory tax based on engine size that disproportionately affects American cars.
- Workers in South Korea lack many basic rights. "South Korea is a country where hundreds of workers are thrown in jail each year for attempting to exercise basic labor rights," said Edwards.
- The agreement creates the possibility of providing free access for manufacturing imports made in North Korean industrial zones, where the workers earn less than 10 percent of what South Koreans earn.
- The agreement opens up American markets to Korean agricultural imports, but does not allow American beef into Korea.