Korea-China FTA

By Byong Ryol Min, USGC Director in Korea

Not long after concluding free trade agreements (FTAs) with the United States and the European Union (EU), Korea has now initiated discussions for an FTA with China. It's been noted, however, that the Korea-China FTA is likely to impose significant costs on Korea's agricultural industry, compared to the earlier agreements with the United States and the EU.

USGC Director Provides Insight into Korea's Corn Market Sectors

According to Byong Ryol Min, U.S. Grains Council director in Korea, the United States supplied 77.6 percent of Korea's corn imports in 2011. Korea's total 2011 imports of feed grains and substitutes, including feed wheat, tapioca and lupine seed, decreased 7.7 percent compared to 2010. "The decline we're seeing in mixed feed consumption is a reflection of diminishing livestock numbers as a result of the foot-and-mouth outbreak earlier in the year," Min explained.

Fallout Continues from FTA Delays

While the United States has finally approved the Colombia, Panama and South Korea free trade agreements (FTAs), the long delay in achieving U.S. ratification continues to produce fallout.

In South Korea, critics say the pact could threaten South Korea’s national interests, and opposition party members are attempting to block a vote in the parliament. Opposition is coming from South Korea’s auto industry and farmers, who fear a flood of U.S. farm exports.

USGC Congratulates Congress for Passage of FTAs; Now the Work Begins

The U.S. Grains Council salutes Congress on final passage of the long-stalled free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. These agreements provide significant benefits for U.S. agricultural trade and the U.S. economy by leveling the playing field in markets where U.S. producers have been laboring under an unfair competitive disadvantage. Ratification of the agreements provides for immediate duty-free access for most U.S. goods, creating opportunities for increases in U.S. agricultural exports which will generate economic growth and U.S. jobs.

Foot-Mouth-Disease Prompts Korean Pork Imports

With domestic hog production reduced 28.6 percent (January-to-July) because of foot-and-mouth disease losses, the South Korean government is stimulating pork imports with a duty-free Tariff Rate Quota. To curb soaring consumer prices, the government is also subsidizing the difference in costs between air freight and ocean freight for chilled pork bellies, reported U.S. Grains Council Director in Korea Byong Ryol Min.

Mission to US Provides Perspective to Korean Biotechnology Evaluators

Representatives from the Korean Environmental and Food Safety Risk Assessment Committees spent the last week in Washington, D.C., Iowa and Washington to gain insight in biotechnology development, regulation and use in the United States. The respective committees play a critical role in the review of scientific data provided by technology developers to the Korean Government for approval of biotechnology products. The U.S. Grains Council-organized mission offered valuable exchanges of information between the team and U.S.

USGC Hopeful on Resolving Differences on TAA and Free Trade Agreements

The U.S. Grains Council was encouraged by the announcement this week  of  the Senate Finance Committee’s  intention to schedule a mock up hearing on the Korea, Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements. However, procedural disagreements on inclusion of reauthorization of the Trade Adjustment Assistance resulted in postponement of that markup hearing.  Hopefully, these disagreements can be resolved in a timely manner and move toward the critical step of ratification and implementation of these important trade initiatives.

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