Free Trade Agreements Passed in Congress
New international free trade agreements are expected to be beneficial to some Inland Empire industries.
The House of Representatives and Senate this week approved the pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama ending a four-year drought in the forming of new trade partnerships.
Goods moving to and from those countries are likely to pass through the Inland Empire, which is is a logistic center for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
"This sort of thing is good news," said John Husing, economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. "It won't be major, but it will help."
Obama administration officials say the three deals will boost United States exports by $13 billion a year. The agreement with South Korea, America's seventh largest trading partner, will support 70,000 American jobs.
Supporters say the three trading partners already enjoy almost duty-free access to U.S. markets and the agreements will lower tariffs on U.S. goods, making them significantly more competitive.
The U.S. automotive and beef industries may also benefit in particular from more access to South Korean customers, University of Redlands economist Johannes Moenius said.
"Republicans and Democrats alike have worked very hard to get us to this point," said Rep. David Dreier, R-San Dimas. "We have done so, first and foremost, for the sake of job creation and economic growth."
The agreement was opposed by labor groups and other critics of free trade agreements who said it could result in job losses and ignore labor rights problems in the partner countries.
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