Where’s the Beef?

President Obama is vowing to work with Congress and South Korea to get a trade deal passed, but not without making sure the deal is good for the American people.

At a press conference in the Rose Garden, President Obama was asked about moving forward on the trade agreement, known as the KORUS FTA (Korea-US Free Trade agreement), noting that there are issues in the agreement including barriers over automobiles and beef imports.
The President said that while the issues of beef and cars are understandable, they are legitimate issues for negotiation, "What I've done is to affirm to President Lee that we want to work constructively with the Republic of Korea in a systematic way to clear some of these barriers that are preventing free trade from occurring between our two countries, " said Obama.

The agreement, originally negotiated from spring 2006-March 2007 has yet to be passed by Congress. The FTA would abolish about 95% of tariffs on all industrial and consumer goods in three years and would remove the remaining five percent within 10 years.

While Congress has yet to act, independent groups, like the Americans for Tax reform, are in favor of the KORUS FTA and are urging Congress and the President to finalize the deal. "It is time to implement the US-Korea FTA. This agreement benefits taxpayers by increasing product choice and lowering prices," stated Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, "A tariff is nothing more than a tax on international commerce. Since tariffs and trade barriers amount to government-imposed costs on both companies and consumers, eliminating these barriers in a free trade agreement amounts to a significant tax cut for both countries."

In addition to the Korean Free Trade agreement, the Congress has also yet to act on the Colombian Free Trade agreement. The Bush administration had been pushing for both to be passed before leaving office in January.