Over the past five years, the Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement has facilitated freer and fairer trade between two of the world’s largest economies.

U.S. manufacturers are now empowered to sell their products into South Korea, which is our sixth-largest trading partner. South Korean businesses have in turn invested billions of dollars into the United States, where they have helped to support or create thousands of jobs.

I see the benefits of this important trade agreement every day as the head of North American operations for a manufacturer based in South Korea. It would be a mistake to abandon this important trade agreement, and the closer economic and diplomatic relationships that have come with it.

The agreement – which is sometimes known as “KORUS” or “KORUS FTA” – has reduced or eliminated tariffs many American businesses faced when exporting products to South Korea, and has invited increased investment by South Korean businesses here in the United States. As of 2015, South Korean businesses invested $10.4 billion into the United States, and South Korea is one of North Carolina’s fastest-growing sources of foreign direct investment.

Doosan Portable Power’s manufacturing facility in Statesville is an excellent example of how these investments spur job growth right here in the United States. Doosan Portable Power employees helped manufacture more than 5,000 air compressors, light towers and generators at our nearly 500,000-square-foot facility in Statesville last year. We sold those products all over the world, which in turn helped to support about 320 good-paying jobs in manufacturing, finance, marketing, engineering, service, information technology, human resources, aftermarket and operations positions.

But Doosan Portable Power’s commitment to Statesville does not end there. In addition to the jobs and livelihoods we are proud to support, we give back to our hometown in North Carolina through volunteer work, annual food drives, a partnership with Mitchel Community College, and through donations of our equipment to many local events.

We have been part of the community here in Statesville since 2008, and our ability to grow is supported in part by KORUS, and agreements like it.

South Korea, for instance, is the world’s fifth-largest market for machinery exports of the type manufactured by Doosan Portable Power. U.S. manufacturers exported $2.8 worth of machinery to South Korea between 2008 and 2010. Because of KORUS, the vast majority of U.S. machinery exports to South Korea are duty-free; U.S. manufacturers had previously been subject to over $638 million in tariffs from 2008-2010, which hindered their ability to compete as exporters in the South Korean market.

The point is that KORUS is a success story upon which our elected leaders should build. At a time when geopolitics on the Korean peninsula have been especially fraught with challenges, this would be an especially inopportune time for the United States to weaken our relationship with the government in Seoul.

Still, the best point in favor of KORUS is that it works. For the sake of our economy, the United States should build upon it, not abandon it.

Rich Goldsbury is president of Doosan Bobcat in North America and Oceania. He is currently vice chair of the AEM Board of Directors.

Previously published in the Charlotte Business Journal on September 26, 2017.