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Ambassador Ron Kirk Meets With Korean Minister for Trade Kim Jong-Hoon

WASHINGTON, D.C - U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk held his first meeting with Korea's Minister for Trade Kim Jong-Hoon on May 14 to discuss a range of multilateral and bilateral trade issues, including the pending U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

"Korea is a crucial ally of the United States and an important trading partner," Ambassador Kirk said. "The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement has the potential to bring significant economic and strategic benefits to both countries, while demonstrating the U.S. commitment to expanding our economic engagement and leadership in Asia.

"I brought Minister Kim up to date on our review of the FTA and how we plan to consult with Congress and stakeholders regarding their concerns. I look forward to working closely with the Minister to address such concerns, while also taking into account Korea's interests, so that we can best determine how to move this important Agreement forward," said Ambassador Kirk. "Both Korea and the United States also have a tremendous stake in an open international trading system, and I look forward to continued close cooperation between Korea and the United States in working to achieve progress in the Doha negotiations," Ambassador Kirk concluded.

BACKGROUND

Korea is the United States' seventh-largest trading partner, with two-way trade in goods reaching $83 billion in 2008. The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement is the most commercially significant FTA the United States has negotiated in 16 years. The International Trade Commission estimates that implementation of the FTA would increase annual U.S. goods exports to Korea by $10-11 billion and increase U.S. GDP by $10-12 billion annually. However, concerns remain with the Agreement, particularly with respect to autos and the need for further progress on reopening Korea's market to U.S. beef. The Administration is undertaking a thorough review of the FTA and will be consulting extensively with Congress and other stakeholders to understand fully the exact nature of those concerns and how they can be addressed, so that the Agreement can be submitted for Congressional approval.