The Nelson Report, the Washington insider report, gave a short blurb on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Korea and the US:

What about KORUS? Obviously important strategically, and from a political/foreign policy standpoint…and important economically…there’s no disagreement on that.

We all know the problems alleged by the Congressional Auto Caucus.

Perhaps more difficult to overcome will be that despite all the things USTR was able to get from S. Korea, and despite claims of broad support from the business community, you don’t have to work very hard to hear that in reality, many would-be US exporters feel that Korea’s propensity for non-tariff barriers has not been sufficiently addressed.

Specific examples are given which remind you of some of the more comically outrageous practices in Japan, back in the good old days. (Ask the Whirlpool folks about the switches which S. Korean manufacturers allegedly build-in to beat the air pollution inspections system…)

Bring a WTO case if there are problems, you say? Ask around, and you are told that in reality, winning a “TBT” case (Technical Barriers to Trade) is seen as very hard to prove, and in any event costly, time consuming, and likely to be unsatisfactory in conclusion.

All of this sort of thing adds up to a growing pessimism that even the best-organized pro-KORUS grass-roots lobbying campaign may not be able to overcome the anecdotal opposition…much less the AFL-CIO and the Auto Caucus…in the very thin “launch window” of Jan-March, next year, after which no trade vote is conceivable, except maybe to boost TAA.

When the FTA first hit the news earlier this year, it was widely seen as damaging to Taiwan’s economy. Taiwan and Korea sell many of the same products in the US, and after the FTA, Korean products would be cheaper than Taiwan products. It looks like Taiwan has been given a reprieve….speaking of Korea, enjoy this piece at Global Voices Online that points to Korean research that says blood types really are related to personality. Sure.