This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Washington got an early Christmas president last week: the announcement of a revised – and politically viable – free trade agreement with South Korea.
Free trade pacts are easy to bash by playing on both xenophobia and economic fears. Agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama have been blocked in Congress for more than three years, primarily by Democratic lawmakers who fear union accusations that they are exporting American jobs in exchange for peanuts.
Congress must ratify all these treaties in a hurry. In reality, they will create American jobs.
The agreement with South Korea illustrates how much the United States has to gain by removing senseless and one-sided barriers to international commerce.
The highest barriers are erected by countries that don’t share America’s historical belief in free markets. South Korea, for example, levies average tariffs of more than 50 percent on imported American farm goods; U.S. tariffs on South Korean farm goods average 9 percent. For non-farm goods, it’s 6.6 percent against 3.3 percent.
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