President Barack Obama signed three free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama on Friday. The deals are the largest free trade measure passed since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993, and bring the number of countries that have free trade agreements with America to 20.
Many manufacturers and agribusinesses support a new trade deal with South Korea, one reason President Barack Obama and his counterpart from that nation are heading to suburban Detroit on Friday to tour a General Motors plant where cars are being built with South Korean parts.
But the pact also will make it easier for South Korea to undercut some U.S. companies, leaving many workers leery of the deal—especially in economically struggling areas.
There are still a few textile mills in the Carolina Piedmont, making futuristic fabrics that cover soldiers' helmets and the roofs of commercial buildings.
There is also a new threat on the horizon. A proposed free trade agreement with South Korea, which the House and Senate are scheduled to consider this week, would open the American market to a manufacturing powerhouse that has its own high-technology textile industry.
The South Korea deal, and companion pacts with Colombia and Panama, are sailing toward approval.
American Apparel Inc., a vertically integrated manufacturer, distributor and retailer of branded fashion basic apparel, announced its financial results