Agriculture Secretary Vilsack made the following statement yesterday following U.S-Korea Trade Agreement negotiations:
“Today I received word that the United States and South Korea concluded negotiations on a historic U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement that promises to provide American agriculture with improved access to more than 49 million Korean consumers. From day one, the Obama Administration has focused on taking the steps necessary to move the economy forward, get our family, friends and neighbors back to work and rebuild a strong economic foundation for future prosperity. The U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement will help us do that. The agreement also puts agriculture in a key position to help achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years.
“Agriculture has a great deal to gain from the trade agreement with Korea.
“First, U.S. agricultural exports to South Korea were valued at nearly $5 billion in fiscal year 2010. This agreement will open the market even more for U.S. agriculture. A combination of tariff phaseouts, new tariff-rate quotas, and regulatory harmonization will result in improved access to Korea’s $1 trillion economy.
“Second, the agreement with Korea will affirm a strong position for U.S. agriculture in Korea for decades to come. Korea already has trade agreements in place with Chile, India, and the 10-country ASEAN group, and is negotiating new FTAs with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and China. The U.S. agreement with Korea will put U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses on a more level playing field with competitors around the world.
“Third, the agreement with Korea helps to renew momentum in the United States’ pursuit of more open trade with nations that share our economic, cultural and social values. This bilateral agreement reflects the mutual commitment of South Korea and the United States to opening markets and reaping the benefits of rules-based trade. We are honored and pleased to be entering into such an important partnership with South Korea.
“USDA stands ready to assist U.S. exporters in obtaining immediate and prolonged gains from this agreement.”