U.S.-Korea Free-Trade Agreement to Be Reality Soon

The U.S. trade representative said the free-trade agreement between the United States and South Korea will go into effect March 15.

The Feb. 22 announcement came after the two countries worked over the Presidents Day weekend to review each other’s laws and regulations related to the trade pact. Each side exchanged diplomatic notes saying they have completed their applicable legal requirements and procedures for the agreement to go forward.

“Entry into force of this agreement will open up Korea’s $1 trillion economy for America’s workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers while also strengthening our economic partnership with a key Asia-Pacific ally,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

The agreement is part of President Barack Obama’s efforts to double exports by 2015.

Congress approved the free-trade agreement in October 2011, and South Korea’s parliament approved it a month later. Experts believe the free-trade accord will expand the countries’ $90 billion in two-way trade by 
10 percent in five years.

U.S. apparel makers can now import South Korean textiles free of duty if the textiles are made of regional yarns. The same applies to South Korean companies and retailers that want to bring in U.S.-made garments. American garments are free of duty if made of regional yarns.

Last year, the United States imported $928 million in textiles and apparel from South Korea, an 8 percent jump over 2010. The United States exported $418 million in apparel and textiles to South Korea in 2011, up 9 percent over 2010.

There was no word on when the approved free-trade agreements with Colombia and Panama would take effect.—Deborah Belgum