Washington, DC –
U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman today announced the Administration’s
intent to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with Republic of Korea with the
goal of removing tariffs and non-tariff barriers and expanding trade between the
Portman made the announcement at the United States Capitol building and was
joined by Korea’s Minister of Trade Hyun-chong Kim and a bipartisan group of
leaders in Congress. The negotiations will begin after the expiration of a
90-day consultation period.
"This is the most commercially significant free trade negotiation we have
embarked on in 15 years," said Ambassador Portman. "Korea is the world’s 10th
largest economy with an annual GDP rapidly approaching $1 trillion and our 7th
largest export market. Removing trade and investment barriers between our two
nations through an FTA will increase market access for our farmers, ranchers,
workers and businesses to the dynamic and growing Korean economy, boosting trade
in goods and services."
"Few countries better represent the promise of open markets, democracy and
economic reform than Korea," Portman continued. "Our countries have been allies
for over a half century, and with this agreement, we can strengthen our
alliance, reaffirm our commitment to remain vigorously engaged in Asia, and
create new opportunities for prosperity and peace for the people of both our
"I’m very pleased this launch has generated bipartisan enthusiasm," Portman
added. "USTR will continue its intensive bipartisan consultations with Congress
on this and other trade matters."
The Republic of Korea is a valuable partner in the ongoing global trade
negotiations, commonly known as the Doha Development Agenda. Korea also was
instrumental in advancing trade liberalization in the Asia-Pacific region as the
host of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum last year. Two-way
goods trade between the U.S. and Korea was valued at about $72 billion in 2005.
Major U.S. exports to Korea include agriculture products, aircraft, machinery,
and organic chemicals. Major imports include cars, telecommunications equipment
and electrical machinery.
Over the past ten years, despite the Asian financial crisis, Korea has
maintained a strong real average annual GDP growth rate of 4.9 percent and an
even stronger real average annual trade growth rate of 12.5 percent. It has also
taken a series of important steps to open and reform its economy that continue
to this day. An FTA with Korea will help promote continued economic reform in
The United States is aggressively working to open markets globally,
regionally and bilaterally and to expand American opportunities in overseas
The United States is working to open markets globally in the Doha WTO
negotiations; regionally through the APEC forum and the Free Trade Area of the
Americas (FTAA) negotiations; and bilaterally, with FTAs. The Bush
Administration has put FTAs into effect with – Jordan, Chile, Singapore, Australia, and Morocco
and completed negotiations on FTAs with Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El
Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Bahrain, Oman and Peru. Negotiations
are under way or about to begin with 11 more countries: Panama, Colombia,
Ecuador, Thailand, the five nations of the Southern African Customs Union
(SACU), the United Arab Emirates, and now the Republic of Korea. New and pending
FTA partners, taken together, would constitute America’s third largest export
market and the third largest economy in the world.