Last week, the US Senate and House of Representatives passed three separate free-trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) welcomed the passage in a statement of support. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) also issued a statement supporting the free-trade pact with South Korea.
President Barack Obama said he looked forward to signing the agreements as part of pro-export trade strategy. “The landmark trade agreements and assistance for American workers that passed tonight are a major win for American workers and businesses,” said the president in an Oct. 12, 2011, press statement. “I’ve fought to make sure that these trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama deliver the best possible deal for our country, and I’ve insisted that we do more to help American workers who have been affected by global competition … I look forward to signing these agreements, which will help achieve my goal of doubling American exports and keeping America competitive in the 21st century.”
SOCMA President and CEO Lawrence D. Sloan also expressed his support. “Effective trade policy is highly important to the chemical-manufacturing industry and has been among SOCMA’s legislative priorities since its inception,” he said in an Oct. 12, 2011, press release. “We are looking forward to a more active trade agenda, with increased engagement by the US looking for additional trade partners to increase market access and provide opportunities for American manufacturers.”
Sloan singled out the value of the free-trade pact with Colombia. The chemical industry paid $480 million in duties to Colombia between 2008 and 2010, more than any other exporting sector, according to a July 1, 2011, letter by SOMCA to Congressional leaders. “The [free-trade agreement] with Colombia would eliminate 80% of these duties once the agreement becomes effective and would eliminate the rest within 10 years,” according to SOCMA.
SOCMA noted that Korea is the seventh-largest market for US chemical exports. From 2008 to 2010, approximately $892 million in duties were paid on chemical products to the country. Duties paid to Panama for the same time period were $34 million.
PhRMA President and CEO John Castellani also welcomed the passage of the Korea–US free trade agreement. “Korea is an important market for the US research-based pharmaceutical companies, a country where we currently enjoy a trade surplus,” he said in an Oct. 13, 2011, press release. “This agreement will contribute directly to increased US exports and the expansion of highly skilled, well-paying jobs here in the US.” In 2010, US pharmaceutical exports to Korea increased by nearly 35% from 2009 to $781 million, according to data from PhRMA.