ORION TOWNSHIP, Michigan (AP) — The White House said Monday that President Barack Obama will travel to a suburban Detroit auto plant Friday with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who's in the U.S. for a state visit expected to focus on trade.
Congress is expected to approve a free trade deal with South Korea before the visit.
The White House said Obama and Lee will tour General Motors Co.'s Orion Assembly Plant, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.
The plant made news last year when the United Auto Workers agreed to a lower wage for 40 percent of its 1,500 workers so GM could profitably build two new small cars. GM began producing the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic at Lake Orion a few weeks ago and will start production of the compact Buick Verano soon. The Sonic's predecessor, the Chevrolet Aveo, was built in South Korea.
Obama is fond of saying that if Americans can buy South Korea-made Kias and Hyundais, he wants to see South Koreans driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers.
The White House said in a statement the leaders will talk about the trade deal that "will open up economic opportunities and support jobs on both sides of the Pacific."
Congress is expected to approve free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that have been pending since the presidency of George W. Bush. Supporters of the treaties say the pacts could boost exports by $13 billion a year and foster tens of thousands of American jobs.
The House takes up the three agreements on Tuesday, along with legislation pushed by Obama and Democrats to help workers displaced by foreign trade. Both chambers could sign off on the measures by Wednesday night.
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