US Trade Rep. Kirk to promote free trade pacts in LA port visit

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A container is off loaded from a ship at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California on May 12, 2010.

The United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk is scheduled to visit the Port of Los Angeles Tuesday as part a tour to promote free trade agreements with Korea, Columbia and Panama.

The longshore workers at the Port of Los Angeles should be happy to see Ron Kirk. He’s the former mayor of Dallas, and the free trade agreements he’s pushing have been stalled in Congress since fellow Texan George W. Bush was president.

Leaders in the U.S. Senate said recently they’ve broken the log-jam and plan to pass the trade pacts when they return from August recess. The government estimates the new trade deals could boost U.S. exports by at least $12 billion a year.

As a state, California already does big business with Korea, Columbia and Panama. Manufacturers in the Golden State export about $1.5 billion a year in equipment to Korea, for instance, but those tractors, bulldozers and lawnmowers face tariffs as high as 13 percent.

A free trade agreement would eliminate those tariffs and lower the price on those products in Korea. The U.S. government is hoping that’ll create more jobs back here.

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