American Farm Bureau Encouraged by Korea Trade Agreement

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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Monday sang the praises of a new trade agreement between the United States and South Korea, which could eventually end the tariffs and trade wars that are garnering most of the headlines

“I am optimistic that the dominoes will continue to fall: KORUS, then a new NAFTA, and new agreements with the European Union, Japan, and, most notably, China,” Perdue said in a written statement. “As an avid sportsman, I would say ‘put this one in the bag and keep hunting for more.’”

The Korean trade agreement, known as KORUS, will benefit a U.S. economy that is already booming, Perdue said.

“President Trump’s approval today of the modernized U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement preserves a two-way trade relationship that greatly benefits America’s farmers and ranchers,” said AFBF president Zippy Duvall. “South Korea bought $6.9 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods last year, making it our sixth-largest export market. Whether it’s corn, soybeans and wheat, or poultry, eggs and meat products, our agricultural exports to South Korea are growing thanks to the U.S. – Korea FTA.”

Trump calls it a “very big deal” and says the new agreement makes significant improvements to reduce the trade deficit between the countries and create new opportunities to export American products to South Korea. He says U.S. automobiles, pharmaceuticals and agricultural products will gain better access to Korean markets.

Moon says companies from both countries will be able to do business under more stable conditions. The South Korean leader also said he hopes the revised agreement with the U.S. will help solidify their cooperation in other areas.

“Renewal of our trade deal with South Korea is much-needed good news and help for our farmers and ranchers as the agricultural economy struggles,” Duvall said. “Securing export markets for our products is critical, and we encourage the administration to continue to push for conclusion of other trade agreements, such as an updated NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico.”

U.S. agriculture industry representatives are just glad that KORUS was saved instead of scrapped.

The U.S. became the largest beef supplier to South Korea in 2016, thanks to falling tariffs under KORUS. U.S. beef exports to South Korea reached about $1.1 billion in 2017, almost double what they had been five years earlier.

“Our negotiators also should continue pushing to remove barriers to U.S. ag trade in other parts of Asia,” Duvall said. “As Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently stated, now would be a good time to take a fresh look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement that Farm Bureau has estimated would boost U.S. agricultural exports by $4 billion per year. Rejoining TPP negotiations would send a clear message to other nations, such as China, that the U.S. is serious about growing key markets for our agricultural products around the world.”