Thursday, April 9, 2009

Riverside County supports KORUS FTA

[above: Farm in eastern Riverside County]

Obama may be speaking out against the Korea-US free-trade agreement, beholden as he is to uphold the interests of the unions that helped him get elected in the Midwest, but some groups are speaking out in favor of the ROK-US FTA. Among them are the people running Riverside County:
Riverside County supervisors are expected today to direct their Washington lobbyists to promote a free trade U.S.-South Korea agreement that would generate benefits for the county, officials said.

"Congress needs to act on the Korean Free Trade Agreement as soon as possible," Supervisor Marion Ashley said in a statement last week. "This agreement will increase demand for products produced, manufactured or grown in
Riverside County, and increased demand means new jobs."

According to the newly created Riverside County Office of Foreign Trade, the county is actively courting South Korean businesses that have shown an interest in making investments locally.

Office of Foreign Trade figures showed some 41,000 county jobs are linked to the export market, with the county shipping substantial quantities of agricultural products to 58 nations.
With a fast-growing population of two million, Riverside County is home to an increasingly diverse economy that includes manufacturing and farming. While Riverside County is trying to court South Korean businesses for local investment, it's no wonder that agricultural exports are also on their mind:
About $1.9 billion in U.S. agricultural products could be shipped to South Korea duty-free immediately under the agreement. It would also mean fewer barriers to U.S. automobile exports, according to trade officials.
I wonder if local and state governments are going to start waking up to the benefits of an FTA with increasingly affluent South Korea, the US's seventh-largest trading partner. If they do, they might send a message to Obama that the FTA really would benefit the nation as a whole.

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