The Korean ambassador to the United States is in Philadelphia promoting the pending U.S. Korea Free Trade Agreement.The honorable Han Duk-soo spoke at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal. The docks hummed with activity around him and, if the trade agreement passes, he says that hum only will get louder. “I think this port of Philadelphia will benefit by increasing the trade and more exchanges of commodities from this port,” he said. That’s why the longshoreman’s union backs the deal — import and export increase means more work on the docks. If the agreement passes, 95 percent of all tariffs between the U.S. and Korea would be eliminated within five years. Ambassador Han says the chemical, technology and service industries will benefit.
Also motorcycles–they’re Pennsylvania’s second largest export worth over $700 million a year. “Those that went to Korea were hit with an eight percent import tariff,” said Han. “When this Korea United States Free Trade Agreement takes effect, that tariff will disappear, and Harley Davidson will be more competitive against Honda, Kawasaki, and other companies that export motorcycles to Korea.”But Kathryn Serkes, founder of the conservative group Americans For Free and Fair Trade says the overall math won’t work out. “The Korean Ambassador may like it because it creates jobs.,” Serkes said. “But it creates jobs for Korea, not for the U.S.” She says she’s not opposed to free trade, just this particular deal.Back at the docks, Tami Overby, the Vice President of Asia for the U.S. chamber of commerce, disagrees. She says that the European Union just passed a similar trade agreement with Korea, and American could be left behind. “America stands to lose 345,000 jobs,” Overby said, “and 14,000 of those jobs will be in your home state of Pennsylvania.” President Obama supports the agreement, as does the United Auto Workers Union. A vote will likely happen in the spring.