Korean Trade Deal Threatens Canadian Jobs - Steelworkers

TORONTO, March 10, 2014 /CNW/ - "The Harper government's proposed trade deal with South Korea will kill jobs at home and increase our trade deficit," said Ken Neumann, National Director for United Steelworkers (USW).

The USW is concerned that the proposed Canada-Korea trade deal would deepen the trade deficit of $4 billion that Canada ran last year with South Korea.

"The Conservative government has promoted its deal as benefiting most sectors even if it hurts Canada's auto industry," said Neumann. "In addition to hurting the auto sector, it poses a much broader threat to Canadian manufacturing."

In 2013, Canada imported $7 billion of merchandise from South Korea but was able to sell only $3 billion into the Korean market. If 'free trade' were to increase both figures by a proportional amount, the result would be an even larger trade deficit and a further loss of Canadian jobs.

This imbalance is particularly lopsided in the steel industry. Last year, South Korea sold $330 million of steel to Canada but bought only $50 million of steel from Canada.

"Does Korea have a natural advantage in producing steel or has it made better use of industrial policy to support its steel industry?" asked Neumann. "Canada should not sign away the right to use industrial policies like procurement preferences to develop our economy."

Beyond any effects on trade flows, the deal is expected to include an investor-state dispute settlement process that would give Korean companies special privileges to directly challenge Canadian laws and regulations before secret tribunals.

The Globe and Mail's national business correspondent, Barrie McKenna, recently noted that Canada is currently subject to $2.5 billion of claims by foreign investors under other trade deals. We should not aggravate this problem by agreeing to investor-state provisions with South Korea.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, USW Communicatons, 416-544-5966, bgallagher@usw.ca