When events occur in clusters, I sometimes wonder: coincidence or conspiracy?
Wednesday morning, Fox and Friends invited me to join them for a segment on some of the best buys for American-made vehicles on the market, as peak summer driving season begins. We brought seven vehicles, from sedans to sport utilities, all made in America, by Americans, working for international nameplates.
Two of those vehicles carried the badges of Korean companies, Hyundai and Kia, who have opened plants in the U.S., and a country whose President Moon Jae-in is visiting shortly for meetings with President Trump. The two leaders will meet at a time of great uncertainty for future bilateral, and multilateral, trade agreements and negotiations.
The Administration has stated its intent to renegotiate KORUS, the important trade agreement we have with South Korea. KORUS was the largest trade deal since NAFTA, and since its most recent provisions went into effect in March of 2012, the value of vehicles exported from the U.S. to Korea has tripled in value, going from $570 million to $1.554 billion in 2016. A fun fact: in 2013 the Toyota Camry was officially the car of the year in Korea, a car made in the United States by a Japanese company.
Also this week, the U.S. Trade Representative commenced public hearings on the upcoming renegotiation of NAFTA. While NAFTA does need to be updated, no one should lose sight of the fact that NAFTA has made the U.S. and North American auto industries more competitive internationally than ever before. One million more vehicles are built in the U.S. today than in the year before NAFTA went into effect.
I’m not a conspiracy buff, but I do think that these coincidental events are telling us something very important. We have prospered domestically and internationally, from open trade and investment policies such as those embodied by KORUS and NAFTA. That’s the bottom line, and it’s why Global Automakers will continue speaking out on these issues.