WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 – The long-awaited free trade agreement between the United States and Korea, first signed five years ago, will finally go into full force next month.
United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that the U.S.-Korea trade agreement will take effect on March 15, 2012. This announcement follows the completion over the President’s Day weekend of work by the United States and Korea to review each other’s laws and regulations related to the implementation of the agreement.
“In a few short weeks, the promise of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement – including tens of thousands of export-supported jobs with better wages – will start to come home for American businesses and working families,” said Ambassador Kirk. ”Entry into force of this agreement will open up Korea’s $1 trillion economy for America’s workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers while also strengthening our economic partnership with a key Asia-Pacific ally.”
On March 15, almost 80 percent of U.S. exports of industrial products to Korea will become duty-free, including aerospace equipment, agricultural equipment, auto parts, building products, chemicals, consumer goods, electrical equipment, environmental goods, all footwear and travel goods, paper products, scientific equipment and shipping and transportation equipment.
Also on March 15, almost two-thirds of U.S. exports of agricultural products to Korea will become duty-free, including wheat, corn, soybeans for crushing, whey for feed use, hides and skins, cotton, cherries, pistachios, almonds, orange juice, grape juice, and wine.
The agreement also includes a number of significant commitments related to non-tariff measures that will also come into force on March 15, including obligations related to motor vehicle safety and environmental standards, enhanced regulatory transparency, standard-setting, technology neutrality, and customs administration. Strengthened protections for intellectual property rights benefiting American creators and innovators will also come into force on that day. Finally, commitments opening up Korea’s $580 billion services market will also be in effect beginning March 15.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President J.D. Alexander praised Ambassador Kirk and the announcement, while trying to encourage fellow cattlemen to rebuild their herds.
“When the KORUS FTA is implemented, our competitive advantage will be secured. The KORUS pact will phase out tariffs on U.S. beef over the next 15 years and will make U.S. beef a more affordable and appealing choice for our valued Korean customers. This may very well be the most monumental bilateral trade pact our industry has ever witnessed,” said Alexander.
“With increasing demand and tightening supplies, movement of the KORUS FTA should encourage cattlemen and women to think beyond the current prices for live cattle and think long term. Think about where demand is heading and look beyond the borders of the United States. Now is the time to retain heifers and rebuild what has now become the smallest U.S. cowherd more than five decades. In order to meet increasing demand, we have to have the beef. Now is the time.
“Ten percent, or approximately 12 million American jobs, depend on exports,” Alexander emphasized. “With 96 percent of the world’s consumers living outside U.S. borders, it’s critical that we expand our opportunities to sell beef in the international marketplace if we want to keep American family farms in business.”
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