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Recent News

March 15, 2012
Jobs On The Way: U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement Enters Into Force


February 21, 2012
United States, Korea Set Date for Entry Into Force of U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement


February 18, 2012
Update on Implementation of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement


January 25, 2012
Update on Implementation of Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama


January 6, 2012
Update on Implementation of Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama


December 19, 2011
Update on Implementation of Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama


December 5, 2011
Update on Implementation of Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama


October 21, 2011:
Statement By U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk On Presidential Signature Of Trade Legislation


October 13, 2011
BLOG: Statements Regarding the Congressional Approval of the Korea, Colombia, and Panama Trade Agreements



FACT SHEET: From Enactment To Entry Into Force: Next Steps On The Trade Agreements


October 12, 2011:
Statement By U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk On Congressional Passage Of Trade Agreements, Trade Adjustment Assistance And Key Preference Programs


October 3, 2011
U.S Trade Representative Ron Kirk Calls for Swift Passage of Trade Agreements 



August 3,2011:
Kirk Comment on Pending Trade Agreements, Trade Adjustment Assistance 


July 7, 2011:
USTR Kirk Comments Following Trade Markups In Senate Finance, House Ways and Means Committees


July 5, 2011:
Statement from USTR Kirk Regarding Announcement of House Ways & Means Committee Markup


June 30, 2011:
Ambassador Kirk Statement Regarding the Planned Informal Markup in The Senate Finance Committee


June 29, 2011:
INFO: Links on Pending Trade Agreements, TAA, Preference Programs


June 28, 2011:
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk Welcomes Next Steps on Pending Trade Pacts, Trade Adjustment Assistance


April 7, 2011:
Statement by Ambassador Demetrios Marantis before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade


February 10, 2011:
Signed Legal Texts Related to the U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement 


December 3, 2011:
Statement by the President Announcing the U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement  


Important U.S.-South Korea Links

Port of MiamiBenefits for Your Industry: USTR Fact Sheets

This Agreement would eliminate tariffs on over 95 percent of industrial and consumer goods within five years. It will promote the further integration of the U.S. and South Korean economies and enhance the competitiveness of U.S. businesses in the world’s 12th largest economy. Visit USTR's Fact Sheet page to find out how the agreement will specifically benefit your sector.


Tractor in a fieldBenefits for Your Farm: Agriculture Fact Sheets

The United States is already South Korea’s top supplier of agriculture products, including of a broad variety of farm products such as almonds, fresh cherries, hides and skins and corn. The U.S.-South Korea trade agreement creates new opportunities for U.S. farmers, ranchers and food processors seeking to export to South Korea’s 49 million consumers, giving American agricultural producers more market access in two ways – by getting rid of 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 might arise in the future. Visit the Department of Agriculture's website to find out how the agreement will benefit your sector.


Manufacturing PlantBenefits for Your Sector: Industry Fact Sheets: Benefits for Your Sector

The U.S-South Korea trade agreement creates new opportunities for U.S. manufacturers seeking to export to South Korea in two ways: first, it eliminates tariffs, or duties, charged when U.S. exports come into South Korea; and it addresses non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports – whether by eliminating barriers that are in place today, or by establishing a framework to prevent non-tariff barriers from arising in the future. Visit the Department of Commerce's website to find out how the agreement will benefit your sector.  


AgreementFull Text of the Agreement

Read the full text of the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement, which is an integral part of the President’s efforts to increase opportunities for U.S. businesses, farmers and workers through improved access for their products and services in foreign markets, and supports the President’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling of U.S. exports in 5 years. You can find the Legal Texts reflecting December 3, 2010 Agreement here. You can also find an updated text of the South Korean-language version of the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement here.

Support for the U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement

Statements of support for the U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement from various elected officials, the business community, and advocacy groups can be found below.


Visit Your Government Trade Partners

Visit USTR's partners across the federal government to learn more about their part in the trade agreement.

Department of Agriculture Seal     Department of Agriculture

Commerce Seal     Commerce Department

Labor Department Seal     Department of Labor

OMB Seal     Office of Management and Budget

Export Import Bank Seal      Export-Import Bank

SBA Seal      Small Business Administration

OPIC Seal      Overseas Private Investment Corp.

USTDA Seal      Trade and Development Agency

State Department Seal      State Department

Increasing U.S. Auto Exports and Growing U.S. Auto Jobs Through the U.S. South Korea Trade Agreement

Auto Worker Fixing a TirePresident Obama recognized that when it came to autos, the 2007 U.S.-South Korea trade agreement did not go far enough to provide new market access to U.S. auto companies and to level the playing field for U.S. auto manufacturers and workers. The new agreements signed in February 2011 make a number of important improvements:

  • To deal with the large disparity between South Korean auto sales to the United States and American car sales in South Korea, U.S. auto companies and American auto workers now have provisions that give them the opportunity to increase sales to South Korea before U.S. tariffs on imports of South Korean autos come down.

  • To increase overall sales in South Korea of more affordable American vehicles, and support more auto jobs here at home, we agreed to eliminate non-tariff barriers that severely restricted American automakers’ access to the South Korean market and raised the cost of producing vehicles for sale in that market.

  • To level the playing field for America’s auto industry and workers, we strengthened enforcement and protections from sudden harmful import surges.


Automotive Safety Standards: South Korea’s system of automotive safety standards has effectively operated as a non-tariff barrier to U.S. auto exports. The 2011 agreement allows manufacturers that sell 25,000 or fewer U.S.-made autos and trucks in South Korea to import their U.S.-made vehicles into South Korea by meeting U.S. federal safety standards rather than certifying to South Korean standards. This number is almost four times as high as was provided for in the 2007 agreement.

Automotive Environmental Standards: To avoid a disproportionate burden on U.S. automakers while maintaining high standards for environmental protection, the 2011 agreements allow U.S. autos – already subject to strict American environmental standards – to be considered compliant with new South Korean environmental standards on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions, developed since the 2007 agreement, if they achieve targets within 19 percent of those in South Korea’s new regulations. This provision helps American automakers sell their cars affordably in South Korea without undermining South Korea’s environmental objectives.

Taxes: In the 2007 agreement, South Korea committed to reduce tax rates for American cars and to streamline current taxes based on engine size, which have tended to raise the cost of the typically larger size of American vehicles sold in South Korea. Under the 2011 agreements, South Korea has additionally committed that any future automotive tax changes based on fuel economy or greenhouse gas emissions will be adopted in a manner consistent with certain general transparency obligations contained in the 2007 agreement.

Transparency: The 2007 agreement prohibits South Korea from adopting new automotive regulations that create unnecessary barriers to trade, and establishes an early warning system for potential trade barriers. The 2011 agreement make two important additions for significant regulations: creating a 12-month period between the time a final regulation is issued and the time auto companies must comply with it, giving companies sufficient time to adjust; and requiring South Korea to develop a new review system within 24 months of entry into force to make sure that existing auto regulations accomplish their objectives in the least burdensome manner possible.


Car Tariff Elimination: The 2007 agreement would have immediately eliminated U.S. tariffs on an estimated 90 percent of imports of South Korean autos, with remaining tariffs phased out by the third year of implementation. The 2011 agreement keeps the 2.5 percent U.S. tariff in place until the fifth year. At the same time, South Korea will immediately cut its tariff on U.S. auto imports in half (from 8 percent to 4 percent), and fully eliminate that tariff in the fifth year.

Truck Tariff Elimination: The 2007 agreement would have required the United States to start reducing its tariff on imports of South Korean trucks immediately and phase it out by the agreement’s tenth year. The 2011 agreement allows the United States to maintain its 25 percent truck tariff until the eighth year and then phase it out by the tenth year – but holds South Korea to its original commitment to eliminate its 10 percent tariff on U.S. trucks immediately.

Tariffs on Electric Cars: In the 2007 agreement, the United States and South Korea would have eliminated tariffs on imports of electric cars and plug-in hybrids by the tenth year of implementation. Under the 2011 agreement, South Korea will immediately reduce its electric car tariffs from 8percent to 4 percent, and both countries will then phase out their tariffs by the fifth year. This is a concrete step toward achieving President Obama’s goal of supporting America’s green technologies.


Special Motor Vehicle Safeguard: While the 2007 agreement contained a safeguard mechanism applicable to all goods, it did not include a safeguard specific to the U.S. auto industry. Under the 2011 agreement, South Korea has committed to add a special safeguard for motor vehicles to ensure that the American auto industry does not suffer from any potential harmful surges in South Korean auto imports due to this trade agreement.

Additional rules strengthen this auto safeguard: In the 2007 agreement, the general safeguard protections against harmful product surges ended in the agreement’s tenth year. Under the 2011 agreement, the special motor vehicle safeguard is available for 10 years beyond the full elimination of tariffs for each South Korean motor vehicle product. Under this motor vehicle safeguard, the U.S. government is not subject to retaliation for up to two years after this particular safeguard is applied if it fails to agree on tariff reductions or other compensation.. The special motor vehicle safeguard can be applied more than once per particular motor vehicle product if more than one surge causes serious injury to U.S. production of that product. The higher tariffs of the special motor vehicle safeguard can be applied to a particular product for as long as four years, instead of three years as in the agreement’s general safeguard. There is no requirement for the United States to progressively re-lower tariffs while the special motor vehicle safeguard is applied. Fewer procedural steps are required to speed up the application of the safeguard when workers need faster relief.

Enforcement: The 2007 agreement creates a tough remedy for the United States to re-impose as much as $200 million in U.S. tariffs (i.e., “snapping back” to pre-agreement levels) on South Korean passenger cars if U.S. auto business in South Korea is materially affected by South Korean violations or nullifications or impairment of the agreement. The 2011 agreement substantially increases Korea’s obligations in a number of areas subject to this strong enforcement mechanism.