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The U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement: A good deal?
President Obama has said the proposed "win-win" arrangement would support 70,000 jobs and increase American exports. Will Congress agree?
 
Obama faced "embarrassing setbacks" last month in South Korea when he failed to strike a trade agreement.
Obama faced "embarrassing setbacks" last month in South Korea when he failed to strike a trade agreement.
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This weekend, the U.S. and South Korea agreed on a long-delayed free trade agreement which President Obama hopes will boost the U.S. automobile industry and generate 70,000 new jobs. Under the deal, South Korea will be able to import U.S. auto parts and agricultural products more cheaply, potentially reaping $11 billion for U.S. industry. Obama labeled it a "win-win deal" for both countries, but ratification of the treaty requires the support of Congress. Will both Republicans and Democrats support the deal? (Watch Obama's announcement)

This is a rare, unifying agreement: When Obama returned from South Korea last month with no agreement, says Frank James at NPR, critics called it a "signal failure" for the president. But he has accomplished what he said he would. Given that "free-trade is a bedrock GOP principle," there is no reason for Congress to oppose it. Indeed, supporting it would blunt criticism that Republicans are "the party of 'no.'"
"U.S.-Korea trade deal gives Obama, GOP rare bipartisan chance"

But it's only half a deal. Expect some resistance: Obama may have won a "big breakthrough" on cars, says David Kerley at ABC News, but where's the beef? South Koreans still won't import "U.S. beef products" from any animal older than 30 months thanks to the "mad cow" outbreak of 2003. Some senators, such as Montana's Max Baucus, "may oppose passage of the agreement" if a deal on beef imports isn't included.
"A 'landmark deal' or half a deal? Where's the beef?"

It's the legislators in Seoul we need to worry about: South Korean president Lee Myung-bak must also persuade lawmakers in his country to ratify the deal, says Donald Kirk in The Christian Science Monitor. "That may not be easy." The main opposition Democratic Party has "planned a major national campaign against ratification," and has accused Lee's party of conceding too easily to the U.S.
"Can Obama, Lee sell lawmakers on U.S - South Korea free trade deal?"

 

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