A few days ago I read Tim Burrack's contempt-riddled rant about the failure of the Korean FTA while Obama was in Korea. In their modestly labeled blog - THE TRUTH (which amazingly always seems to align with Big Biotech corporate PR) - several of my ex-NCGA buddies relentlessly expound one narrow view of all the news they deem important. And all of it seems to boil down to: there is no problem biotech can't solve.
It almost makes me wonder where their funding comes from.
Anyhoo, Tim was grasping for language of sufficient outrage to outline the scope of the disaster in Korea.
First President Obama was defeated at home. Then he toured Asia and was defeated abroad.His inability to secure a trade agreement with South Korea represents a major setback for a White House that had staked a lot on the successful completion of the accord. It also raises serious questions about the president’s comprehension of the challenges to achieve trade agreements and the importance of America’s economic engagement with the world.On free trade, the president has over-promised and under-delivered....
The pacts with Colombia and Panama remain important, but they’re also dwarfed by the deal with South Korea, our seventh-largest trading partner. A successful agreement with Korea would become America’s biggest trade accord since NAFTA--a pact finalized by Bill Clinton, Obama’s Democratic predecessor--and mark a significant step toward the goal of doubling exports.Obama said he would get it done. In June, he gave himself the deadline of last week’s G-20 summit in Seoul. This seemed like a reasonable date because it pushed the issue beyond the midterm elections, safeguarding it from demagoguery.On the Sunday after the elections, Obama contributed an op-ed to the New York Times. He offered a powerful argument for free trade."The great challenge of our time is to make sure that America is ready to compete for jobs and industries of the future." he wrote. "It can be tempting, in times of economic difficulty, to turn inward, away from trade and commerce with other nations. But in our interconnected world, that is not a path to growth, and this is not a path to jobs."Obama also singled out the specific opportunity with South Korea. "President Lee Myung-bak and I will work to complete a trade pact that could be worth tens of billions of dollars in increased exports and thousands of jobs for American workers. Other nations like Canada and members of the European Union are pursuing trade pacts with South Korea, and American businesses are losing opportunities to sell their products in this growing market. We used to be the top exporter to South Korea; now we are in fourth place and have seen our share of Korea’s imports drop in half over the last decade."What happened to the man who wrote these words? Well, he didn’t seal the deal. The president’s self-imposed deadline has come and gone and he has done nothing tangible to increase trade –just more words.This is what kids call an "epic fail."Right after the elections, Obama confessed to a "shellacking" by voters. His failure in Korea is a variation on the same theme--a shellacking suffered at the hands of Big Labor, which rigidly opposes just about any trade policy that doesn’t involve economic isolationism. [More]
Well, guess what, Tim? By taking some time (all of two weeks) and doing the hard work while ignoring right-wing critics who can't imagine letting trade negotiators pass up political photo ops to nail down details, the administration got a fair deal not just for Tim and his friends but the American car industry.
According to what is known so far, the South Korean side has made big concessions in the automotive sector, agreeing to postpone for five years the abolition of the 2.5 percent US tax on South Korean auto imports and at the same giving the green light for more US made cars to be exempted its safety standards. Now, any automaker can bring into South Korea 25,000 vehicles, compared to 6,500.
The American automotive industry sees the FTA as a major success, with GM being among the first to express its satisfaction. In a statement released today, the car maker says it now has time to “assess whether Korea's market has opened as negotiated before reducing its tariffs.” [More]
In other words, the tightly controlled Korean car market now represents an opportunity for people who depend on that industry for their future. But since there is no biotech involved, Tim didn't seem to care about that particular group of Americans.
So wipe the spittle off your monitor, Tim, and come up with some other niggling issue with this accord so you won't have to acknowledge THE TRUTH of an Obama success.
I would suggest using the words "epic success".