- - Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TRADE

Lawmaker: Deal held “hostage

Republicans should stop “holding hostage” a beneficial free-trade agreement with South Korea they are using as a bargaining tool to pass other trade deals with Colombia and Panama, a top House Democrat said Tuesday.

The South Korean trade deal would help level the playing field, said Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means committee. The U.S. trade deficit with South Korea is consistently more than $10 billion, he said, because many Korean companies have “open access” to the U.S. market, but their American counterparts are “shut out” there.

In the auto industry, for instance, South Korean companies ship about 500,000 vehicles to the U.S. each year, but American automakers ship 1 percent of that sum to South Korea, Mr. Levin said. It’s a “one-way street” that a trade agreement could fix.

“Unless Republicans stop stalling, our companies will be disadvantaged,” he said.

The bill, which Mr. Levin would like passed before Memorial Day, likely will receive bi-partisian support. But it faces delays because Republicans also want the Colombia and Panama deals passed, while the White House and some Democrats, including Mr. Levin, say they need more work.

MICHIGAN

Toyota restricts auto parts orders

Toyota Motor Corp. wants its U.S. car dealers to stop ordering replacement parts made in Japan because it is worried about running out of them.

Toyota has given its dealers a list of 233 replacement parts that shouldn’t be ordered unless a customer needs one for a repair.

Toyota says its parts inventory is adequate despite production that was disrupted by the earthquake in Japan. But it has restricted orders of some components made by suppliers to make sure they remain available.

Dealers say the parts include brake rotors, body panels and shock absorbers, primarily for the Prius gas-electric hybrid and hybrid versions of the Highlander SUV and the Camry midsize sedan.

Toyota currently has more than 300,000 replacement parts.

ENERGY

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