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US-South Korea FTA Takes Effect Today

March 15, 2012
By: Jim Wiesemeyer, Pro Farmer Washington Consultant

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Impact of deal will likely reduce South Korea's surplus in trade with U.S., which totaled $13.1 billion in 2011

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

The South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement finally begins its implementation process today, a process that will show around 80 percent of the existing tariffs between the two countries eliminated today, while the plan calls for 95 percent of tariffs to be eliminated within five years.

U.S. autos. South Korea's 8 percent tariff on U.S. autos will be cut to 4 percent today.

U.S.-South Korea trade amounted to just over $100 billion in two-way trade in 2011 – the U.S. is South Korea's fourth-largest trading partner, while South Korea is the eighth-largest trading partners for the U.S.

The KORUS FTA eliminates eliminate tariffs and quotas on most agricultural products traded bilaterally. The United States receives immediate duty-free access to Korea for almost two-thirds of current U.S. agricultural exports immediately. This would apply, among other products, to wheat, corn, soybeans for crushing, whey for feed use, hides and skins, cotton, cherries, pistachios, almonds, orange juice, grape juice, and wine. Tariffs and import quotas on most other U.S. agricultural goods would be phased out within 10 years. However, longer transition periods would apply to Korea’s more sensitive commodities. This means tariffs, quotas, and safeguards to protect against import surges would be phased out in various stages ranging up to 23 years.

Tariffs on beef and potatoes for chipping will be removed in 15 years, on fresh grapes in 17 years, on ginseng products and fresh pears in 20 years, and on fresh apples in 23 years.

TRQs with long phase-out periods (10 to 18 years) apply to other sensitive products as cheeses, butter, dairy-based infant foods, barley, whey for food use, animal feed supplements and hay, corn starch, and ginseng.

However, seven U.S. agricultural products (skim and whole milk powders, evaporated milk, in-season oranges, potatoes for table use, honey, and identity-preserved soybeans for food use) are subject to Korean TRQs that slowly expand in perpetuity. Shipments against these quotas would enter duty-free, but over-quota amounts would indefinitely face prohibitively-high tariffs.

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