Oct 11, 2017

GOP Rep. defends Korean trade deal Trump has threatened to end

Rep. Reichert. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

A Republican House leader on trade gave a full-throated defense of the U.S.-Korean trade deal on Wednesday, as anxiety rises in Washington that President Trump is on course to sink the deal. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), who chairs the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, said in his opening remarks at an Asia-Pacific trade hearing: "I am convinced that KORUS, our trade agreement with Korea, has been a great success for both the United States and Korea."

Why this matters: Only Congress has the constitutional authority to slow — or stop — Trump from tearing up trade deals. (It's the subject of hot legal debate whether Congress can prevent the president from withdrawing unilaterally.) Regardless: members like Reichert will be crucial defenders of these deals as Trump and his top negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, continue down a path that many believe ends with the destruction of two major agreements — KORUS and NAFTA.

Reichert's remarks stand out because in the populist climate following Trump's election it's rare to hear members of Congress speak up about the benefits of America's trade deals. Many on Capitol Hill are realizing that now is an urgent moment as the fourth round of NAFTA negotiations began Wednesday and all signs point to peril for the deal.Trump has trashed the Korean trade deal, publicly and privately, and in late August was poised to withdraw the US from KORUS until top advisers intervened to slow down the process and ensure he was properly briefed on the economic and national security consequences of withdrawal. In a Sep. 5 Oval Office meeting Trump told Lighthizer to tell the South Koreans he was so crazy he might withdraw from the deal any minute. (But he then told his advisers that he actually might, suggesting this was no bluff.)

What Reichert said about KORUS:

"KORUS has been in place only five years, and some of the tariff reductions are still being phased in, especially for sensitive agricultural products, so we can expect even greater gains in the future. Even still, we have seen the benefits of KORUS throughout the United States, and particularly in my home state of Washington. Among other success stories, we have nearly doubled our cherry exports to Korea..."At the same time, Korea's implementation of certain portions of the agreement has been very disappointing, and I know some tough conversations are ongoing to address those problems. The best way to resolve these issues and instill confidence in both countries about the future of the agreement is to use the committee structure set up under KORUS."When we have a trade agreement in place, we can work to enforce the agreement and push our trading partner to live up to its side of the bargain. But our limited number of trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific region greatly reduces our leverage relative to competitors in other countries that have been more aggressive in negotiating trade agreements.

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll hits 3,900

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus has just hit 3,900, per Johns Hopkins data.

Details: Tuesday night's grim milestone came hours after President Trump said it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the novel coronavirus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place. "They are going to be facing a war zone," he said of medical workers.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 14 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: UN warns of recession with "no parallel" to recent past

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus pandemic is the "greatest test" the world has faced together since the formation of the United Nations just after the Second World War ended in 1945, UN chief António Guterres said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 858,000 and the death toll exceeded 42,000 Tuesday night, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 12,000 deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 19 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 857,957 — Total deaths: 42,139 — Total recoveries: 178,091.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 188,547 — Total deaths: 3,899 — Total recoveries: 7,068.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.