News / Asia

US Cites Benefits of New Trade Agreement with South Korea

Scene at Busan, South Korea's biggest and the world's No. 5 container port (file photo)
Scene at Busan, South Korea's biggest and the world's No. 5 container port (file photo)

A top U.S. trade official has told lawmakers that the Obama administration is ready to move forward with a free trade agreement with South Korea, an agreement he says will help the U.S. keep its edge in international trade and boost jobs at home.

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Demetrios Marantis says that after Congress approves the long-awaited agreement, it will help create thousands of U.S. jobs and more opportunities for U.S. businesses overseas.

"The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement will strengthen U.S. trade and investment ties to Korea's $1 trillion economy. It will bind a key ally closer to us, anchor our economy to the dynamic Asia-Pacific region and help us keep our edge over international competition," Marantis said.

The original agreement was approved in 2007, during the administration of George W. Bush. President Barack Obama's administration has worked to address concerns with the deal that were brought up after it was signed.

The U.S. auto and beef industries had complained that the deal did not go far enough to protect their interests.

On Thursday, Marantis told the House Ways and Means Committee that the Obama administration signed a re-negotiated deal with South Korea in December following extensive consultations with a wide range of concerned groups and lawmakers.

"The U.S. Korea trade agreement is ready to move today. The president and many of you had serious concerns about the deal signed in 2007, we heard you and we took action," Marantis said.

Lawmakers told Marantis that they look forward to getting a copy of the agreement and moving it through Congress. It is not certain when it will come to a vote, as some Republican lawmakers have said they want to consider it at the same time they debate trade deals with Colombia and Panama. Those agreements, however, are not as far along in the negotiation process and some of Mr. Obama's fellow Democrats have reservations about them.

Marantis says improvements in the deal help create a more level playing field for the U.S. auto industry and address concerns about non-tariff barriers in South Korea's auto market such as environmental and safety regulations.  

He says that once lawmakers in the U.S. and South Korea approve it, the agreement will promote green technologies by immediately cutting South Korean tariffs on U.S.-made electric cars and completely eliminating them after five years.

Marantis says a tariff structure was negotiated that gives U.S. auto companies more opportunity to build up their business in South Korea before tariffs in America come down. The deal, he says, will unlock the economic potential of the 2007 agreement for a range of American industries.

"Immediately upon entry into force, this agreement eliminates tariffs on two-thirds of U.S. agricultural exports to Korea.  Within five years of entry into force, it removes on over 95 percent of consumer goods exports," Marantis  said.

The United States is under pressure to get the agreement approved as soon as possible because the European Union has already signed a free trade deal with South Korea that goes into effect in July.

Industry experts say the United States needs the deal - its biggest trade pact to date - not only because of the EU agreement but also because Chinese companies are outpacing American exporters in South Korea and elsewhere in Asia.

Thomas Hubbard is the senior director for Asia at McLarty Associates, an international trade and business consulting firm, and a former ambassador to South Korea. Hubbard told lawmakers that while the United States was South Korea's biggest trading partner in 2003, it has now slipped to fourth, with China taking the lead.

"If you go around the East Asia region you will find that China has moved into first place almost everywhere you look. And they [other countries in East Asia] are uncomfortable with that. The other countries of Asia are looking to this agreement as an indication of whether the United States is committed to the region," he said.

Hubbard says that countries in East Asia are looking to see if the United States will continue to lead in promoting trade liberalization. He says that countries in Asia will see speedy approval of the South Korea trade agremeent as a sign of Washington's continued commitment to the region.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid