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USTR Receives Public Comments Concerning the Pending Colombia and Korea Free Trade Agreements

WASHINGTON, D.C. - United States Trade Representative Ronald Kirk announced today that USTR has received more than five hundred responses to requests for public comment on the free trade agreements that have been negotiated with Colombia and the Republic of Korea. USTR had issued notices at the end of July inviting comment by interested parties by noon today, September 15. In its ongoing effort to identify and resolve outstanding issues related to the pending free trade agreements, USTR sought comments on stakeholders' views of the costs and benefits of the FTAs, how well they accomplished the objectives of the 2002 Trade Promotion Authority Act, and what concerns they may have with the agreements.

"I am very pleased by the strong response to our request for public comment on these important agreements," said Ambassador Kirk. "This request reflects the Administration's emphasis on providing transparency and creating an open dialogue on trade issues. We will carefully review the comments received to help us determine how best to move forward with these FTAs," said Ambassador Kirk.

The Obama Administration has made transparency one of the cornerstones of U.S. trade policy. The Federal Register notices, published on July 27 for the South Korea FTA and July 29 for Colombia FTA (or TPA), provided an opportunity for the Administration to hear from people around the country and to receive their input on these pending free trade agreements. The public comments can be found at www.regulations.gov: Korea: Docket ID: USTR-2009-0020, Colombia: Docket ID: USTR-2009-0021.

USTR will closely study the public submissions, which will inform continuing discussions with the U.S. Congress, stakeholders and the relevant trading partners regarding the pending FTAs.

BACKGROUND

The United States-Colombia FTA was signed on November 22, 2006. Colombia's Congress approved the agreement and a protocol of amendment in 2007. Colombia was the third largest U.S. export market in South America in 2008, following Brazil and free trade partner Chile. The U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated that U.S. goods exports to Colombia would increase by about $1.1 billion annually under the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, and that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) would increase by about $2.5 billion. Colombia was the largest export market in South America for U.S. agricultural goods in 2008. Total two-way trade in goods with Colombia reached $24.5 billion in 2008.

The United States- South Korea FTA was signed June 30, 2007. South Korea is the United States' seventh-largest trading partner, with trade in goods reaching $83 billion in 2008, and trade in services reaching $19 billion in 2007 (the most recent year for which statistics are available). If approved, the agreement would be the United States' most commercially significant free trade agreement in more than 16 years. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the reduction of Korean tariffs and tariff-rate quotas on goods alone would add $10 billion to $12 billion to annual U.S. GDP and around $10 billion to U.S. annual goods exports to Korea.