Trade official touring LA port says international agreements help US economy

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Brian Watt/KPCC

Ambassador and United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk toured the Port of Los Angeles Tuesday to promote free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. Kirk said that by renegotiating the trade pacts, the Obama administration is addressing some Americans’ concerns that free trade agreements help push jobs off shore.

"We want to make sure that we make it possible for us to reap the economic benefits and the job potential of those here in America. And we think that we’ve done that," he said.

"The combined impact of what we’ve done with panama Columbia and South Korea will add almost $12 billion to our GDP, $10 to $11 billion in new exports, and help us create at least 70,000 jobs."

The free trade pacts have stalled in Congress for years as some lawmakers have pushed for more provisions to protect American workers. Southland Reps. Janice Hahn and Laura Richardson accompanied the trade official. Richardson says she hasn’t yet decided whether to support the new free trade agreements.

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