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BY CONGRESS MEMBER CHARLES K. DJOU, R-HI-01 – In my first floor speech as a Member of Congress, I advocated in favor of the enactment of the pending free trade agreement with South Korea that has been stalled in Congress. I welcome the support of the Obama Administration for this important measure currently languishing in Congress. (see Administration’s announcement over the weekend at the G20 Summit in Toronto that it would push for the free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea)

As I said a month ago, expanding free trade and opportunities for commerce is critical during this difficult time of economic recession. Particularly for my district in Hawaii, expanding free trade with South Korea will directly help our number one industry: tourism.

Yet there are more than just economic factors to consider. Given the instability of North Korea and given that my Congressional District lies in the flight arc of North Korea’s missiles, establishing strong ties with South Korea is more important than ever. Now is the time for a free trade agreement with South Korea and I urge the majority in Congress to put aside partisan interests and pursue what is in the best interests of the United States, South Korea and the entire Pacific region.

As a Member of the House Budget and Armed Services Committee, I have made it one of his highest priorities to push for a free trade agreement with South Korea, not for the economic benefits, but, more importantly, because of the strategic interest the United States has in strengthening its alliance with South Korea.

Recent news reports that North Korea may be formalizing a power transfer from Kim Jong-Il to his son Kim Jong-Un adds urgency to the push for this free trade agreement.

Congressman Djou delivered a statement on the House floor today regarding the news on North Korea as well as the free trade agreement with South Korea. That statement can be viewed here.

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