White House praises U.S.-Korea FTA after second year
As the the second anniversary of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) nears, exports of U.S. manufactured goods to Korea have increased, and Koreans are buying more U.S. services than ever before, the White House said.
KORUS, the White House said, has also improved South Korea’s investment environment through tougher provisions on intellectual property rights, services and investment, supporting U.S. exports.
“Since the Korea agreement went into effect, U.S. exports to Korea are up for our manufactured goods, including autos; exports are up for a wide range of our agricultural products; and exports are up for our services. Millions are benefiting from the lower tariffs on U.S. exports, as well as the progress being made to tackle non-tariff barriers blocking U.S. exports to Korea,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in a statement Wednesday.
Since entering into force March 15, 2012, three rounds of tariff cuts and eliminations have taken place under the agreement, including the first on the date of entry into force; the second on Jan. 1, 2013; and the third on Jan. 1, 2014. More than two-thirds of U.S. agricultural exports are now entering South Korea duty-free. By Jan. 1, 2016, Korean tariffs on more than 95 percent of U.S. industrial and consumer goods exports to South Korea will have been eliminated, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
“Slow economic growth in Korea between 2012 and 2013 dampened demand for imports, but made-in-America manufactured goods still grew their sales in Korea by 3 percent, to $35.4 billion, which start from a small base; overall U.S. passenger vehicle exports to Korea increased 80 percent compared to 2011; and sales of ‘Detroit 3’ vehicles are up 40 percent,” USTR explained.
Exports of U.S. services to the country increased by 18.5 percent between 2011 and 2013, to about $19.4 billion. There were also significant increases in U.S. exports of key agricultural products that benefit from reduced tariffs under KORUS, including dairy, wine, beer, soybean oil, fruits and nuts, among others.
The committees and working groups established under KORUS, including the ministerial-level Joint Committee, succeeded in addressing a range of implementation issues that have arisen during the past two years.
“We continue to work with our Korean counterparts in areas where concerns remain, such as autos and customs, and are committed to resolving these issues in order to deliver the full benefits of KORUS,” USTR said.