Ambassador Kirk met today with South Korea’s Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon. Ambassador Kirk reaffirmed his commitment to work together closely with Minister Kim on addressing the outstanding issues surrounding the U.S.-Korea FTA so it can move forward. He emphasized the economic significance of the FTA and its potential to play a major role in meeting the Administration’s goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years, as well as in growing well-paid jobs in the United States. Ambassador Kirk also expressed his condolences for the 46 South Korean sailors who lost their lives in the sinking of the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan, emphasizing that the incident highlights the critical importance of the strong U.S.-Korea alliance and that the KORUS FTA can serve to strengthen the alliance even further.
South Korea is one of the United States’ closest allies and a significant economic partner. It is our seventh-largest trading partner, with two-way goods trade reaching $67.8 billion in 2009 and two-way trade in services reaching $21.5 billion in 2008 (the latest data available). The KORUS FTA was signed in June 2007 and is currently pending Congressional approval. According to the independent U.S. International Trade Commission, full implementation of the FTA is expected to boost U.S. goods exports to Korea by $10-11 billion annually, and increase U.S. GDP by $10-12 billion per year. The Administration estimates that full implementation of the KORUS FTA could add up to 70,000 jobs in the United States. Concerns have been raised about the FTA in the United States, however, particularly with respect to autos and beef. The Administration is consulting with Congress and other U.S. stakeholders to find ways to address these concerns.