During a press briefing with reporters Tuesday Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Congress must move swiftly to ratify the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, because without quick and decisive action, America's competitors will secure their own trade deals with Korea, and competitors' products will achieve an advantage at the expense of American productivity.
Korea is currently negotiating a trade agreement with Australia, a major U.S. competitor for the Korean beef market, which may allow tariff cuts for Australian beef to take effect before those on U.S. beef if ratification of the U.S.-Korea agreement is delayed.
Once ratified by Congress, the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement is expected to expand U.S. farm exports to South Korea by $1.8 billion, support thousands of new jobs here at home, and help to position U.S. agriculture ahead of its competitors in the lucrative Asian marketplace.
Vilsack says economic output is estimated to grow more under this agreement than from our last nine trade agreements combined.
This agreement immediately eliminates duties on the majority of U.S. farm products exported to Korea, including wheat, corn, soybeans for crushing, whey for feed use, hides and skins, cotton, cherries, pistachios, almonds, orange juice, grape juice, and wine, and reduces or eliminates duties on many others over time. In the livestock arena, the agreement also reduces the tariff on U.S. beef from 40% to zero in 15 years. Also, more than 90% of pork exports will be duty-free by 2016.