U.S., South Korea sign updated trade agreement
On Sept. 24, the United States and South Korea signed an updated U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement, primarily addressing automobiles, steel and currency practices. The agreement updates provisions of the 2012 KORUS trade deal. While the agreement did not specifically address agricultural trade, U.S. ag groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), praised the deal for maintaining relations with a strong agricultural trading partner.
In 2017, South Korea was the U.S.’ sixth-largest ag export market, purchasing $6.9 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods.
“Renewal of our trade deal with South Korea is much-needed good news and help for our farmers and ranchers as the agricultural economy struggles,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a prepared statement. “Securing export markets for our products is critical, and we encourage the (Trump) administration to continue to push for conclusion of other trade agreements.”
According to the office of the United States Trade Representative, the U.S.’ overall trade deficit with South Korea was $9.8 billion in 2017, and without agricultural trade it would have been worse. The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service reported a $5.8 billion ag trade surplus.
U.S. beef producers have enjoyed increased trade with South Korea in recent years after the 2012 agreement reduced tariffs on U./S. beef, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said the updated agreement will allow continued growth in beef exports to South Korea.
“KORUS is a prime example of how U.S. producers benefit from trade agreements that reduce tariffs and implement science-based standards. Less than a decade ago, U.S. beef exports to South Korea were severely limited by a 40 percent tariff and a host of non-tariff trade barriers. KORUS tore down those barriers, helping turn South Korea into a leading destination for U.S. beef. In fact, exports to South Korea accounted for over $1 billion annually over the last two years,” NCBA President Kevin Kester said. “We know that a modernized KORUS agreement will allow U.S. producers to continue focusing on what we do best: Providing safe, high-quality beef for Korean families to enjoy.”