It’s been a long, hard-fought trip to the finish line, one wrought with political and labor interests, even though a free trade agreement FTA between the United States and South Korea was forged some five-years ago. But now, barring a threatened yet unlikely veto by South Korea opposition lawmakers, the FTA is set to go into effect in a few weeks.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and South Korean Minister for Trade Park Tae confirmed that the US-South Korea FTA will be fully in play on March 15. The deal's value is estimated at nearly $90 billion. Domestic manufacturers, especially in the automotive and agricultural products industries, stand to gain levels of market access with the Asian trade partner never realized before within said industries. Approval of the FTA with South Korea as well as Panama and Colombia had long been seen as important to boost business for U.S.-based companies feeling the pinch of lower domestic demand. The FTAs, in theory, will significantly expand U.S. exports in those markets, help small businesses and lower tariffs on American goods. The Korean FTA was widely regarded as the most significant of the three new U.S. pacts and will be the first to go into effect.
(Note: More extensive background on the fight to establish the U.S.-South Korean FTA will be featured in this week's NACM eNews, available Thursday afternoon at www.nacm.org).
Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer