Lee, Obama touts FTA gains in Detroit visit
Published : Oct 15, 2011 - 14:16
Updated : Oct 15, 2011 - 14:23

CHICAGO --  President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday trumpeted the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, which the U.S. Congress ratified over four years after it was signed, during their visit to a General Motors plant in Detroit.

"Our trade is basically balanced between the United States and Korea," Obama told workers at the GM Orion assembly plant.

"They buy as much stuff from us as they sell to us -- and that’s how fair and free trade is supposed to be. It’s not a one-sided proposition."

Comparing the negotiation process for a revision in the FTA late last year to bargaining before buying a car at a GM dealership, Obama noted that the two governments worked hard to reach an understanding.

"But when all was said and done, President Lee and I walked away with a trade agreement that is a win-win for both of our countries," he said.

"Here in the United States, this trade agreement will support at least 70,000 American jobs. It will increase exports. It will boost our economy by more than our last nine trade agreements combined."

Lee stressed that the Korea-U.S. FTA will create more jobs for Americans, contrary to concerns held by some.

Lee also appreciated the parternership between Korean and American engineers to develop the Chevy model being assembled at the factory and described its operation as pro-environment and efficient.

bama underscored how Korean investment was creating jobs in Michigan, mentioning LG Chem’s plan to make lithium ion batteries in Holland; and Hyundai manufacturing suspension modules in Detroit; and Mando opening a new research and development center for brakes and steering in Novi.

"In Korea, American businesses are going to be pursuing those same investments and opportunities. So it’s truly a win-win for everybody involved," he said.

Following the visit to the GM factory, Lee stopped by at the Hyundai Mobis plant in Detroit and gave words of encouragement to the workers after being briefed on its operation.

Lee then flew over to Chicago and met with 16 U.S. business leaders including the chairmen of Boeing, General Electric, Motorola and JP Morgan Chase.

During the meeting hosted by Chicago Mayor Ram Emanuel, Lee spoke about the recently established ties between Busan and Chicago.

Lee was to meet with Korean residents in Chicago on Saturday before heading back home. The president will arrive in Seoul Sunday.

By Kim So-hyun

Korea Herald correspondent