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U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement Provides Opportunities for U.S. Export Businesses


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US Korea Trade AgreementThe United States-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS Agreement) enters into effect today, reducing tariffs on almost all U.S. industrial exports to South Korea and making it easier for U.S. exporters to successfully compete in the Korean market.

With the implementation of the KORUS Agreement, tariffs will immediately be eliminated on almost 80 percent of U.S. exports to Korea.

Tariffs will also be reduced on other industrial exports that are not made automatically duty-free—the average tariff rate on U.S. industrial exports to South Korea will be reduced from 6.2 percent to 1.1 percent. Most remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 10 years. In addition, the KORUS agreement will eliminate tariffs on nearly two-thirds of all U.S. agricultural exports to Korea. The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) can help exporters figure out when tariffs on their products will be reduced or eliminated (PDF).

The KORUS agreement means more trade for U.S. businesses and more jobs for American workers. The tariff reductions give U.S. exports a competitive advantage in the Korean market, creating new opportunities for companies to do business in South Korea and providing opportunities to expand the reach of their businesses.

For example:

  • Zeeland Farm Services, Inc. (ZFS) is a family-owned and operated agricultural and transportation business with over 200 employees. ZFS was able to break into the Korean market in 2008, and their annual sales revenues in exports to Korea have been around the $5 million mark. The base tariff rates on ZFS’s product categories range from three percent for cottonseed exports to eight percent for soybean meal exports. Under the KORUS agreement, all of these tariffs would immediately drop to zero, giving ZFS a competitive advantage in the Korea market.
  • iWood Eco Design is a Louisville, Kentucky-based manufacturer of custom wood-framed sunglasses. The company currently pays an eight percent tariff on its exports to Korea, Under the KORUS agreement, these sunglasses will enter the country duty-free, immediately creating cost savings for the company. Expedited customs clearance commitments in the pending trade agreement would also facilitate greater access to international delivery services.
  • Pipe Line Development Company (PLIDCO), a Cleveland, Ohio-based manufacturer of pipeline repair and maintenance fittings, currently employs approximately 100 employees. International markets, including Korea and other Asian markets, comprise 74 percent of PLIDCO’s export revenue. PLIDCO currently faces tariffs of up to eight percent on its exports to the Korea. These tariffs will be eliminated under the KORUS agreement, enabling PLIDCO to better compete with other top exporters to Korea, including those from the EU and Iran.

The KORUS agreement is also an important step toward meeting President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goal to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. This commitment to supporting exports is one way the Commerce Department is working to support an American economy that’s built to last.

Did you know...

Between 2002 and 2007, minority-owned firms outpaced the growth of non-minority firms in gross receipts, employment, and number of firms. Minority firms are an engine of job creation.
Graph for MBE Growth

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