Should Congress Pass the Korea Free Trade Agreement?

Moderated by Andrés Martinez, Irvine Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation

The recently negotiated Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Korea is the most ambitious trade deal the U.S. has contemplated since NAFTA. Struck with a country whose freedom and prosperity was secured by the sacrifice of tens of thousands of American GIs, the potential economic and strategic significance of the Korea FTA is hard to overstate. But as protectionist sentiment grows in Congress, the 1,400-page agreement is now in political peril. As the hub of U.S. trade with Asia and home to a vibrant Korean community, Los Angeles is caught in the crosscurrents of this broader political debate over globalization and greater economic interdependence. What would passage of a Korean FTA mean for L.A.? How economically significant is L.A.’s unique relationship with Korea? Has free trade been a boon for the local economy, or do local workers and manufacturers stand to benefit from growing skepticism about free trade? U.S. Rep. Diane Watson, South Korean Ambassador Lee Tae-Sik, Jesse Swanhuyser of the California Fair Trade Coalition, and former U.S. trade representative Brian Peck visit Zócalo to discuss the future of America’s ties with South Korea.


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