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

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Will New Russian Force Be 'Putin’s Personal Army'?

    With broad powers to control riots, suppress dissent, National Guard may be aimed at sending a message to West as much as keeping peace at home

    Foreign Media in Pyongyang Barred From North Korean Party Congress

    Hundreds of international journalists invited to cover historic party meeting barred from entering actual event

    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.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora