U.S., South Korea Reach Free Trade Agreement; AMI Applauds News

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A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and South Korea has been finalized.

Under the agreement, the current beef market access to South Korea remains intact and the tariff reductions will proceed as outlined in the original agreement.

The American Meat Institute (AMI) immediately applauded the announcement.

“AMI supports the free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea announced by President Obama this evening and urges the Congress to ratify it at its earliest opportunity,” said AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle.

Boyle noted that South Korea is already a major market for U.S. meat. Pork exports in 2010 are expected to exceed $150 million, making South Korea the fifth largest export market for pork. The tariff reduction schedule for pork will further strengthen the U.S. position in this important and growing market.

Beef exports continue to grow, from 233 metric tons valued at $612,000 in 2006 to 56,000 metric tons valued at $56 million in 2009. Through the first nine months of the year, exports to South Korea are up 136 percent in volume and 181 percent in value over the same period last year.

AMI estimates that once the FTA is fully implemented, beef and pork exports to South Korea could increase by $2 billion and resulting in more than 26,700 new American jobs.

“The growth in U.S. beef exports in recent years is due to the successful negotiations of the U.S. government and widespread Congressional support from leaders, such as Sen. Baucus (D-MT), for reopening the South Korean market to beef, which was closed from 2003 to 2007. AMI looks forward to working with our negotiators and Congressional allies to continue discussions with Korea to provide full access for all U.S. beef products,” Boyle said.



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