Free Trade Deal Awaits Approval

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The White House and the South Korean government reached a tentative deal last week on a long-delayed free-trade agreement (FTA) that can now be sent to Congress for approval.

The International Trade Commission estimated that America’s economic output would grow more from the U.S.-Korea agreement than from the United States’ last nine trade agreements combined. Merchandise exports to Korea are projected to increase by as much as $10 to $11 billion annually, according to the White House, and American companies will have more open access to South Korea’s $560 billion services market.

The deal would be the second-largest U.S. free trade agreement behind the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The business sector lined up behind the deal, with the American Association of Equipment Manufacturers issuing a statement supporting the FTA.

“On behalf of America’s equipment manufacturing industry, we applaud the pro-American export agreement that is expected to increase annual exports of American goods,” said Dennis Slater, association president. “Eliminating trade barriers and allowing our farmers and manufacturers to sell their products in new markets is vital to significantly improving our economy.”

Key agricultural sectors also announced support for the proposed agreement, not surprising since USDA has estimated agricultural exports for fiscal year 2011 would exceed a record-setting $126.5 billion, an increase of about $17.8 billion from 2010.

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