Tuesday, August 31, 2010

US-Korea FTA Explores Adoption

The US-Korea FTA Forum tackled the contemporary question for adoption of the proposed free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea.  Korean Ambassador Han Duk-soo was the featured speaker addressing the issues.

Amb. Han noted that the U.S. already enjoys a trade surplus with Korea, and benefits from a net positive flow of foreign investment into the U.S. from Korean investors.   This FTA is expected to benefit the U.S. with $10-$11 billion increase in exports once adopted.  This FTA is the largest yet negotiated by Korea, but it remains unadopted.

(l to r) Consul General Lee and Ambassador Han confer during the Forum. More Photos.

For the U.S., Korea is now the world's fifth largest economy and the fourth largest in Asia.  This market of affluent consumers would become more accessible on US-Korea FTA adoption. For instance, Amb. Han referred to Roman Meal, an experienced and substantive exporter that is not in the Korean market because Korea currently charges an 800% tariff on whole wheat.  That tariff would disappear in 10 years with adoption of the FTA.

However, Pres. Obama has spoken of his preference for its adoption before a scheduled trip to Korea this November.  Already, a proposed Korea-E.U. FTA is nearing adoption, an agreement that wasn't even on the table when the U.S. Korea FTA was first submitted to Congress.  If the U.S. continues to stall, American companies and workers stand to lose big as Europeans gain eased market share.

A special thanks to collaborating organizations:  Tacoma-Pierce Co. Chamber, World Trade Center Tacoma, Korean Women's Assn., U.S. Chamber of Commerce, TradeRoots, U.S.-Korea Business Council and the Port of Tacoma (for additional hosting activities).

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