Gov. Scott Walker left Saturday with a delegation of business leaders on an eight-day trade mission to South Korea and Japan to help Wisconsin farmers, manufacturers, technology companies and service providers sell more of their products overseas.
The Republican governor also hopes to attract more foreign investment here.
Wisconsin’s annual exports to South Korea have grown 33 percent since 2010 to $477 million. And a big beneficiary of that increase has been our state’s dairy industry. South Koreans bought $170 million worth of American-made cheese last year and is the fourth-largest market for U.S. dairy exports, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. Wisconsin sells more cheese to foreign markets than any other state.
President Donald Trump recently instructed his staff to prepare to withdraw from the 2012 free trade agreement with South Korea. Trump laments an overall trade deficit with the Asian country, as if the exchange of products is a zero-sum game. In reality, both countries benefit from selling more of what they do best, while importing more of the things they need at lower prices.
And a recent government report suggests that the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea would be even larger without the trade agreement that eased tariffs.
Trump has called the Korean trade deal a “horrible” pact that has “destroyed” America. In reality, the agreement has given Wisconsin farmers and many other industries greater access to some 50 million potential South Korean customers who are eager to buy more cheese and other specialty products.
Walker and others who seem to have the president’s ear at times should try to steer him in a better direction for our economy.