Guam -United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk has written to Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan thanking the Congressman for his continuing support of efforts to complete the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).
Sablan is one of a bipartisan group in Congress who have been encouraging President Obama and Ambassador Kirk to try to resolve outstanding issues on the Agreement by the November G-20 Summit in Seoul. Korean investment has been an significant and growing component of economic development in the Northern Mariana Islands.
“I very much appreciate the strong bipartisan support for this important initiative underscored by your letter,” Kirk wrote. “The President asked me to respond.”
Congressman Sablan and other members of the House, who support opening up the Korea trade relationship to further expansion, first addressed the stalled KORUS negotiations in a letter to the President last November, shortly before Obama was to meet with Korean President Lee Myung-bak. That meeting did help strengthen the commitment to completing negotiations.
The Congressmen followed up this year with another communication to keep the White House aware of their continued interest in seeing an agreement finalized, ideally before the summit of the world’s top 20 economies in Korea this November.
Korea itself is the 14th largest economy in the world and the seventh largest trading partner for the U.S.
“While at present our economic relationship with Korea is primarily centered around tourism,” Sablan said, “in the past there have been Korean manufacturing interests in the Northern Mariana Islands.
“Whether our islands would become a platform for manufacture again is dependent on many factors, including the availability of labor and environmental issues.
“But certainly it is valuable for us to be perceived as a part of the United States that is supportive of the growth of the Korean economy through barrier-free trade between our countries. This will encourage other forms of Korean investment in our islands and sends a message that our Korean neighbors are welcome here.”