The US National Meat Association last night claimed that the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement would enter into force on March 15.
Quoting US trade representative, Ron Kirk, NMA said 80 percent of US exports of industrial products, and an estimated two-thirds of US agricultural product exports to Korea would progressively become duty-free under the agreement.
“Entry into force of this agreement from March 15 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,” Ambassador Kirk said.
These commitments were backed by the KORUS agreement’s strong enforcement provisions, which would enable the US to hold Korea to its promises under the pact.
Under the agreement tariffs on US beef into Korea will drop from 40 percent to zero over the next 15 years.
The Korean National Assembly approved the KORUS FTA in late November, following its successful passage through US Congress a month earlier.
Like the US, Australia has been working to negotiate a similar bilateral accord with the South Korean Government for the past five years. The activation of the KORUS FTA now places a greater sense of urgency on Australia to increase its efforts to formalise a similar agreement.
Australia is the largest exporter of beef to South Korea, accounting for about half of all beef shipments to the market last year, compared to 38pc from the US and 12pc from New Zealand.
South Korea is Australia’s third largest export market for beef, worth about $750 million a year.
US meat industry leaders earlier said US beef exports to South Korea could double as a result of the FTA deal.
The KORUS FTA is also expected to generate up to 350,000 new jobs in South Korea as it ramps up its own exports to the US, and is forecast to boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product by 5.66 percent over the next decade, according to the Korea Times.
Not all in Korea are happy with the deal, however, with the country’s farming and livestock industries predicting losses of around 850 billion won ($742 million) per annum over the next 15 years, and higher unemployment in rural areas, the Korea Times reported.