President Trump is Meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in — and Talking Trade

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

A lot has been said about the Trump administration’s renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and its Section 232 investigations into steel and aluminum imports. Both are big deals.

Less has been said about the bilateral trade agreement between the United States and South Korea – known as KORUS. At least for the next few days, though, that will change.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is visiting Washington, D.C., where he and President Trump will meet for the first time on Thursday evening, and hold talks on Friday. They’re expected to talk about North Korea; a U.S.-backed missile defense system installed on the Korean peninsula that China doesn’t like; and the five-year-old KORUS deal. Trump, a loquacious man, was critical of the agreement on the campaign trail, and told reporters back in April he doesn’t like the li. The president at the time called the deal “a one-way street.”

Indeed, by some measures it has been. From Reuters:

The U.S. goods trade deficit with South Korea has more than doubled since KORUS took effect in 2012, from $13.2 billion in 2011 to $27.7 billion in 2016. It was forecast to boost U.S. exports by $10 billion a year, but they were $3 billion lower in 2016 than in 2011.

It looks like the Trump administration is gonna be tough on South Korean trade. It has signaled it plans to raise the American auto industry’s complaints about restrictive market access. To cite another specific example, it has already acted; the administration raised tariffs significantly on imports of certain South Korean steel products this year. Subsidized pipe (used by the energy industry for oil drilling), you will remember, flooded into the American market a few years ago, resulting in factory closures and thousands of U.S. layoffs.

According to reports, the president is planning for a “friendly and frank discussion” with President on trade.

President Moon, meanwhile, has brought with him promises to eradicate “unfair trade practices” and plans from South Korean manufacturing giant Samsung to open an appliance plant in South Carolina. It will ultimately employ 1,000 in the manufacture of washing machines.

That may help grease the skids on Friday’s meeting. We’ll be keeping an eye on President Trump’s opinions on South Korean trade over the next few days.


Reposted from AAM.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Freight can’t wait

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

A freight train hauling lumber and nylon manufacturing chemicals derailed, caught fire and caused a 108-year-old bridge to collapse in Tempe, Ariz., this week, in the second accident on the same bridge within a month.

The bridge was damaged after the first incident, according to Union Pacific railroad that owns the rail bridge, and re-opened two days later. 

The official cause of the derailments is still under investigation, but it remains clear that the failure to modernize and maintain America’s railroad infrastructure is dangerous. 

In 2019, 499 trains that derailed were found to have defective or broken track, roadbed or structures, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s database of safety analysis.

While railroad workers’ unions have called for increased safety improvements, rail companies have also used technology and automation as an excuse to downsize their work forces.

For example, rail companies have implemented a cost-saving measure known as Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), which has resulted in mass layoffs and shoddy safety protocols. 

Though privately-owned railroads have spent significantly to upgrade large, Class I trains, regional Class II trains and local, short-line Class III trains that carry important goods for farmers and businesses still rely on state and local funds for improvements. 

But cash-strapped states struggle to adequately inspect new technologies and fund safety improvements, and repairing or replacing the aging track and rail bridges will require significant public investment.

A true infrastructure commitment will not only strengthen the country’s railroad networks and increase U.S. global economic competitiveness. It will also create millions of family-sustaining jobs needed to inspect, repair and manufacture new parts for mass transit systems, all while helping to prevent future disasters.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work