U.S. Agriculture in the U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement

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The U.S-South Korea trade agreement creates new opportunities for U.S. farmers, ranchers, workers, and food processors seeking to export to South Korea’s 49 million consumers – and will support more jobs here at home in the agricultural sector. The agreement gives American agricultural producers more market access in two ways – by eliminating tariffs charged when U.S. exports come into South Korea, and by laying out a framework to tackle other barriers to U.S. exports – even those that arise in the future.

South Korea is the fifth largest market for U.S. agricultural product exports – South Korea bought more than $5.3 billion of “Grown in America” products in 2010. In 2010, the top five U.S. agricultural export product categories to South Korea were grains, red meats, hides and skins, feeds and fodder, and wheat. The United States is already South Korea’s top supplier of a broad variety of farm products, including almonds, fresh cherries, hides and skins, soybeans, corn, and wheat. The new agreement is expected to expand those sales even further.


  • South Korea’s average tariff on agricultural goods is considerably higher than the average U.S. tariff on agricultural goods: 54 percent compared to 9 percent. South Korea will eliminate virtually all of those tariffs when the agreement is fully implemented, opening new opportunities for U.S. farmers and workers throughout the production, processing and transportation supply chain here at home.

  • The majority of U.S. farm products will enter South Korea duty-free immediately after the agreement enters into force. These include wheat, corn for feed, soybeans for crushing, whey for feed use, hides and skins, cotton, cherries, pistachios, almonds, grape juice, and wine.

  • South Korea’s 40-percent tariff on U.S. beef will be phased out in 15 years. More than 90 percent of U.S. pork products will enter the South Korean market duty free by January 1, 2016, with many tariffs phasing out sooner.

  • Other farm products that will benefit from immediate duty-free access within new tariff rate quotas include skim milk powder, whey for food use, cheese, dextrins and modified starches, barley, popcorn, soybeans for food use, dehydrated and table potatoes, honey, and hay.

  • The agreement also seeks to make sure that regulations dealing with food safety or animal and plant health are based on science and do not unfairly block American exports. A permanent committee will encourage the development of science-based sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures in compliance with the World Trade Organization SPS Agreement.